QA resident nabs alleged car prowler

Queen Anne resident Ken Cavallon did something on Sept. 13 that makes police nervous; he caught and held an alleged car prowler in front of his home in the 1900 block of 11th Ave. W.

Cavallon, the president and founder of the Interbay Football Club, e-mailed the News about nabbing the suspect, West Seattle resident Che Manuel Melendez.

According to his e-mail, Cavallon's wife spotted Melendez and two other men trying to steal his Land Rover's battery around 7:30 that Tuesday morning. She alerted her husband, who "shot out of the house and after a scramble broke the passenger side window and yanked this guy (Melendez) by the shirt collar out of the passenger side of the getaway car as one of his thug buddy's (sic) ran off and the other drove off at top speed...." Cavallon then held Melendez until police arrived and arrested him.

Cavallon said to let him know if the paper would like more details. The paper did, but Cavallon did not return a call for comment.

However, two police reports about the incident indicates the three suspects were allegedly trying to steal the Land Rover after breaking into the SUV and finding a spare ignition key. But the battery was dead.

So they took the battery out of his wife's Jeep Wrangler and were in the process of putting it into the Land Rover when they were caught, according to the police reports.

The reports indicated that Melendez and his two companions had also been involved in earlier car prowls in the area in which a car seat, 80 CDs in a leather holder and a Serius satellite-radio system were stolen from two Mazdas. The stolen items were found stacked up in a nearby alley and returned to the owners.

Melendez claimed in one police report to be acting only as a lookout during the car prowls, adding that he was simply holding the hood up when the battery was allegedly stolen from the Jeep.

Melendez was arrested and booked into jail for car prowling and for a Mountlake Terrace warrant for possession of drug paraphernalia. The other two suspects, whom Melendez identified only by their first names, escaped and have not been arrested.

"We've charged this guy with two counts of vehicle prowling," said City Attorney Tom Carr. Melendez was released on his own recognizance. "The judge decided not to require bail," Carr said, adding that Melendez is a first-time offender and is probably facing 10 days in jail if convicted.

It's obvious from his e-mail that Cavallon was feeling pretty good about himself, but Seattle police don't recommend that others take the same action in similar circumstances, said police spokesman Sean Whitcomb.

"Ultimately, it is a personal decision to interject yourself between a criminal and a crime," he said. But doing so can be dangerous, Whitcomb warned.

"You don't know if the person is armed, and you don't want a property crime to escalate to a violent crime," he said. "What we would ask people to do if they're witnessing a crime is to call us, call 911 and report everything they see."

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