Detectives are investigating a string of pick-pocketing incidents reported around the Sound in recent months. One of the incidents was reported in Lynnwood.
“We do not believe these crimes are isolated incidences. Rather, criminals are making coordinated efforts to victimize unsuspecting people throughout the Puget Sound,” said Everett Financial Crimes Sgt. Matt Mekelburg. “Be aware of your surroundings and take a few basic steps to protect your financial security.”
The Lynnwood incident was reported at a Panera Bread location. Stolen credit cards were used to purchase gift cards at a nearby Safeway.
Additionally, credit cards stolen from a Panera Bread in Woodinville on Dec. 9 were used to purchase merchandise at a Nordstrom’s in Lynnwood.
The most recent incidents were reported on March 7. A victim said they had used a self-service kiosk at a Panera Bread in Everett. Later, she realized her wallet was missing and $14,000 had been spent at nearby stores using her cards.
Also on March 7, another victim at a Trader Joe’s in Everett reported her cards were taken and immediately used at a nearby to purchase $3,200 in gift cards.
“A female approached her and started asking questions,” Everett detectives report in a press release. “After the conversation, the victim realized her wallet was gone and several credit cards were immediately used at Target.”
“The pattern of crime occurring in Snohomish County is tied to a multi-state series of thefts committed by an extremely large and organized group of individuals,” says Everett De. Jamie French. “These criminals are victimizing people from the Pacific Northwest to New York City and down to Florida.”
Detective French is working with multiple agencies throughout the United States and advises: “The crimes have been linked due to locations of occurrence, particularly Panera Bread and Trader Joe’s, and the retail locations where victims’ credit cards were used. Multiple suspects work together to use distraction techniques and steal victims’ wallets.”
Additional related incidents were reported in Factoria and Bellevue.