Olympia police: Children deployed as purse thieves

OLYMPIA — Police in Olympia say they’re investigating a theft ring of children organized by a man who sent the youngsters into a restaurant to steal purses.

Victims say their credit cards were later used in Thurston and Pierce counties.

KOMO-TV reports police booked Charles W. Elias, 34, for investigation of forgery. He was also wanted on an outstanding warrant.

Investigators say there had been several reports of purse thefts at the Capital Mall Chuck E. Cheese’s in recent months.

They said surveillance video showed a man directing children to steal unattended bags and bring them to him in the bathroom.

Police said that when he was arrested Wednesday, Elias was accompanied by a woman and children ages 7, 8 and 10. Police haven’t described his relationship to them.

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