EVERETT — Everett police are searching for a group of pickpockets suspected of an “extremely large and organized” theft ring that has nabbed wallets from unsuspecting customers across the country.
Store security footage of the suspects was released Thursday by Everett police. Along with still images and video, detectives listed nine cases that appear to be connected in Snohomish and King counties. Many of those occurred at Panera Bread or Trader Joe’s, where victims were distracted by someone else who was part of the scheme.
The incidents include:
• On Dec. 9, thieves stole wallets at a Panera in Lynnwood and another location of the same chain in Woodinville. The same day, a thief took a purse at an Italian restaurant in Bellevue.
• Around 2:30 p.m. Jan. 3, a wallet was stolen from a Panera in Factoria, with the thieves spending about $4,000 at a Best Buy.
• Around 1:15 p.m. Feb. 2, a thief stole a wallet at a Trader’s Joe’s on Everett Mall Way.
• Around 2 p.m. Feb. 19, another wallet was stolen at a Panera in Bellevue.
• Around noon March 7, a thief bumped into a woman at a Panera on Everett Mall Way. She later noticed her wallet was gone and found that about $14,000 had been spent at Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond. Security footage showed multiple people using her credit cards. The same afternoon, a woman was approached by a stranger who asked her questions. After the conversation, she realized her wallet had been taken. Almost immediately, $3,200 in gift cards were bought at a local Target.
• On the afternoon of March 14, a wallet was stolen from a Panera Bread in Bellevue.
Suspects used the wallets to buy merchandise from Apple, Nordstrom and Target, or gift cards at retail stores.
Local detectives are working with police across the country, from the Pacific Northwest to New York and Florida, to piece together the case.
Police are asking for help to identify the people in the images. Tips can be directed to Everett police at 425-257-8450.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.