Woman accused of pretending to have kids to steal from schools

ARLINGTON — She pretended to have young children. Time and time again, she visited local schools and asked about enrolling her nonexistent kids.

Then, when school staff were distracted, the 36-year-old Arlington woman allegedly grabbed purses, wallets and electronics from offices and classrooms. She was arrested last week in Arlington and booked into the Snohomish County Jail. She’s accused of similar crimes in Everett and Marysville in recent weeks. Police also are investigating her boyfriend’s possible involvement.

“It was all drug-related,” Marysville detective Jon Elton said. “They have a heroin and methamphetamine addiction. Her whole purpose was to go in there and try to steal items.”

Elton, who is assigned to the north county property crimes unit, started working the case after a March 3 theft at the Mountain View Presbyterian Church preschool in Marysville. A woman entered the preschool, wandered around and looked through a closet. When confronted by an employee, she said she was looking for a school for her children.

“This is all on video,” Elton said.

A teacher’s purse later turned up missing. When Elton interviewed the teacher, he found it odd that the teacher’s stolen credit cards had not been used. She told him she’d heard about a similar incident at Grace Academy, a private school in Marysville.

The Grace Academy theft, from Feb. 24, also involved a woman asking about a preschool. A pastor’s cellphone and tablet computer were stolen. The pastor had saved the serial number for his phone, and Elton tracked down the device. It had been traded for $100 at a kiosk where people can unload old electronics. For every transaction, the kiosk records a thumbprint, a photo and a driver’s license.

Marysville police recognized the man who sold the phone. They knew he lived in the Arlington area, so they called Arlington officers, who said the man’s girlfriend might also be involved.

A photo of the girlfriend was an “exact match” for the suspect in the Mountain View surveillance video, Elton said. He sent a memo to police around the region, saying he had a warrant for her arrest.

On Tuesday, Elton got a call from Arlington school resource officer Stephanie Ambrose. The suspect had been spotted at Eagle Creek Elementary, where she’d given a fake name.

“That school resource officer, it was smart thinking, she sent a bulletin to all Arlington schools,” Elton said.

The woman was arrested after she tried the same thing that day at Pioneer Elementary. Her behavior triggered several school lockdowns.

She is suspected of stealing from at least two schools in Arlington before she was caught, city spokeswoman Kristin Banfield said.

The woman also is suspected of two thefts earlier this month in Everett. She reportedly stole teachers’ wallets from Garfield Elementary and Everett High School. In both cases, the stolen credit cards were discarded.

The woman reportedly has admitted to the thefts. She said she and her boyfriend were interested in cash and gift cards, and they threw everything else away. They didn’t want to deal with the trouble of stolen credit cards.

The woman was booked for investigation of theft and trafficking in stolen property. She has since been released on bail.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A view of one of the potential locations of the new Aquasox stadium on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 in Everett, Washington. The site sits between Hewitt Avenue, Broadway, Pacific Avenue and the railroad. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
20 businesses could be demolished for downtown Everett stadium

Some business owners say the city didn’t tell them of plans for a new AquaSox stadium that could displace their businesses.

Kathy Purviance-Snow poses for a photo in her computer lab at Snohomish High School on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Snohomish, WA. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
To ban or embrace ChatGPT? Local teachers fight AI with AI — or don’t

“It has fundamentally changed my teaching in really stressful and exciting ways,” an EvCC teacher said. At all levels of education, ChatGPT poses a tricky question.

In this Feb. 5, 2018, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 7 is displayed during a debut for employees and media of the new jet in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
FAA gives Boeing 90 days to develop plan to fix quality, safety issues

The agency’s ultimatum comes a day after a meeting with CEO Dave Calhoun and other top Boeing officials in Washington, D.C.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside WSP District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed in a collision on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
State trooper killed, 1 arrested in crash on I-5 near Marysville

Authorities said Trooper Chris Gadd had been stopped along the freeway around 3 a.m. near 136th Street NE. A Lynnwood driver, 32, was arrested.

A man walks by Pfizer headquarters, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, in New York. Pfizer will spend about $43 billion to buy Seagen and broaden its reach into cancer treatments, the pharmaceutical giant said. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan, File)
Pfizer backs out of Everett manufacturing plant after $43B Seagen deal

Pfizer finalized the acquisition of the Bothell-based cancer drug developer in December.

Madi Humphries, 9, Rose Austin, 13, and Eirene Ritting, 8, on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
No grades, no teachers: Inside a Bothell school run by student vote

Each day at The Clearwater School, 60 students choose their own lessons. It’s one vote per person, whether you’re staff or student.

SonShine Preschool inside First Baptist Church Monroe is pictured Friday, March 1, 2024, in Monroe, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
SonShine preschool in Monroe to close at the end of the year

The preschool, operated by First Baptist Church, served kids for 25 years. School leadership did not explain the reason behind the closure.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night on December 11, 2017. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Following lawsuit, Providence commits to improved care for Deaf patients

Three patients from Snohomish County sued Providence in 2022 for alleged Americans with Disabilities Act violations.

Cars drive through snow along I-5 in Snohomish County, Washington on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
In March, 7 p.m. sunsets are back for Western Washington

Washingtonians will finally start seeing more sun starting March 10. But a little more winter could be on the way first.

One of the parking lots at Stevens Pass Thursday afternoon on December 30, 2021.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Stevens Pass to charge $20 for parking reservations on busy days

Two-thirds of spaces will remain free for early arrivers on weekends. Cars with four or more occupants can also park free.

Days after shootout with Lynnwood police, suspect checks into hospital

Police learned the 18-year-old was in a hospital in Portland, Oregon. His alleged role in the shooting remained unclear.

Snohomish County pharmacy tech accused of stealing 2,500 opioid pills

Rachel Langdon stole oxycodone while working at a Snohomish County pharmacy, according to state Department of Health allegations.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.