Two men connected to multiple locker room thefts at the Lynnwood Recreation Center were among 15 arrested and charged earlier this month as part of a pyramid-style ring that stole from fitness centers, gyms and recreation locations across Snohomish, King and Skagit counties.
The Everett Police Department said that detectives investigated more than 23 reported cases involving identity theft, theft, possession of stolen property and forgery, with financial losses amounting to thousands of dollars for victims. Everett Police Detective Jamie French, with the help of other agencies, Washington’s Most Wanted, and Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound, identified the 15 suspects involved in the theft ring.
“This was a ‘pyramid style ring’ where the suspects played different roles in the process,” French said. “Some acted as lookouts while others broke into lockers and either gave stolen bank cards to others or used the cards themselves.”
Among the 15 arrested, two men — Sukjae “Eric” Woo and Taylor Freeman — have been charged for multiple thefts from the Lynnwood Recreation Center in May of last year, said Lynnwood Police Commander Sean Doty.
According to Doty, Woo is being charged in connection with two locker room thefts between May 20 and May 28. In Lynnwood, Freeman was only reported to have been involved in the May 20 theft.
During both incidents, bank cards — and other possessions — were reported stolen from rec center lockers that had been broken into. The victims also reported their cards were used to make unauthorized transactions, often at Fred Meyer.
Doty said information provided by the store’s loss prevention employees and video surveillance footage ultimately led to the suspects’ arrest. He also praised the year-long investigation by the Everett Police Department.
“Everett PD and specifically Everett Detective Jamie French had the bulk of the cases in Snohomish County and she did a great deal of work to bring these people to justice,” he said.
Woo reportedly pled guilty to 15 counts of identity theft, one count of possession of stolen property and one count of theft. He will serve 50 months, plus 12 months of community custody.
Freeman pled guilty to residential burglary, five counts of identity theft and attempting to elude. He was sentenced to just under 37 months, with three years of community supervision.
In a May 11 statement, District Prosecuting Attorney Hal Hupp was part of the ID Theft Task Force handling the Snohomish County cases.
“Prosecutions like these are possible because of the Regional Fraud and ID Theft Task Force combining with multi-county law enforcement agencies and prosecutor’s offices working together to battle identity theft,” Hupp said. “These particular cases crossed over from King County to Snohomish County and finally into Skagit County as the ring travelled up and down the I-5 corridor. I want to thank all law enforcement and prosecutors in the adjoining counties for their hard work and efforts.”
–By Cody Sexton