West Seattle Crime Watch: ‘Car break-in, purse theft, shopping spree’

July 31, 2013 at 2:48 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news | 45 Comments

How fast do criminals move? This fast, reports Rich, sharing that surveillance photo with the subject line we used in the headline – car break-in (followed by) purse theft (and) shopping spree:

My wife’s car was broken into this morning around 8:00 am in front of the Link Building in The Triangle, and the thief made off with her purse. In the time it took to notify all of the authorities, she and her male accomplice had already run up thousands of dollars in charges in Westwood and White Center businesses. She and her partner hit Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples, O’Reilly Auto Parts and the Safeway on Roxbury, each time buying several hundred dollars in gift cards and other items (computers, seat covers, floor mats, Kindle covers, framed art…)

The thief is a white female, mid to late 20′s, about 5’5″, with straight shoulder length auburn hair. She’s wearing plaid pajama bottoms and a black hoodie sweatshirt. The most distinguishing item the store clerks have mentioned, because it’s so out of place, is the expensive handbag she’s carrying (my wife’s stolen bag), which is a large brown leather Michael Kors. The male accomplice appears to be late 30’s to early 40’s, balding, with what looks like a beard. He’s wearing jeans and a gray short sleeve collared shirt.

If you have any information on these reprobates, please contact the Police Department at 206-233-2623, and reference case number 2013-272983.

We asked Rich how he got the surveillance images so fast: “When we were shutting down the cards, the credit card companies were telling us where they were active. I found out 25 minutes after they hit O’Reilly, and contacted the manager there. He jumped right on it and found the perps.” He says video from two other stores confirms it, too. P.S. Besides the number he gave – if you see these people, you can also call 911, if it’s a current sighting.

45 Comments

  1. See if you can find out from Safeway which gift cards they bought = next stop.

    Comment by george — 2:52 pm July 31, 2013 #

  2. I’m not certain about this, but when you buy a gift card, isn’t the card number or other code associated with the purchase? This would allow the gift card to be voided when it is purchased with a stolen debit or credit card.

    Comment by schwaggy — 3:16 pm July 31, 2013 #

  3. Good job, O’Reilly!

    Comment by Chris W — 3:33 pm July 31, 2013 #

  4. Kudos to O’Reilly! My credit card was lifted at a Starbucks when someone next in line pocketed it, grabbed his coffee and left. This happened when the cashier put my card on the counter and walked to the back for beans while I had my back turned to attend to kid in stroller. When I contacted the CC company, they were able to track where the card was being used. Starbucks told me to get a warrant if I wanted to access video.

    Comment by Irukandji — 3:39 pm July 31, 2013 #

  5. I hope the cops find these punks! It’s amazing how quickly they can spend their stolen money. Lots of people out stealing in the summer. A good reminder to not leave your purse in the car, even if you are dropping your kid off a daycare or a quick stop to the cleaners. It’s not worth it!

    Comment by Seattlegal — 3:40 pm July 31, 2013 #

  6. Does O’Reilly’s know what make of car they were buying auto parts for? Might be a clue to what their driving.

    Comment by CanDo — 3:46 pm July 31, 2013 #

  7. Schwaggy, they should in their system. It’s just a matter of the stores getting to them fast enough. Theives are quick, they know how it works. Scary stuff, I hope they catch them quickly!

    (Also, I think I have those PJ pants….)

    Comment by jedifarfy — 3:50 pm July 31, 2013 #

  8. All of this could have been avoided if the store employees CHECKED ID and made sure that it matched with what is on the credit card. It takes less than 60 seconds to do this, and could save thousands of dollars and stop a lot of thieves. Debit cards too, check id if it doesn’t match, don’t sell. Sorry this happened to you, hopefully next time the employees will do their job.

    Comment by zac — 3:51 pm July 31, 2013 #

  9. This is why any establishment that accepts credit cards as payment should be required to check photo ID when a customer wants to use one. The store I worked for had this policy, and I wonder how many times I took a card from someone and I got the “It’s my spouse’s/parent’s” song and dance was complete BS. If all establishments practiced this, thieves would have nowhere to use them.

    Sign your cards or at the very least write “Check ID” on the back, then cover that with a bit of scotch tape so it won’t fade/smear.

    Comment by Andi — 3:55 pm July 31, 2013 #

  10. I was just in the Bank of America on Admiral. Last year at this time I had my wallet stolen with my iPhone in it (while sleeping on an airplane). The teller recognized me and mentioned that there have been a lot of purse, wallet and credit card thefts going on this year. She said some people told her their items were stolen in restaurants.

    Comment by DRW — 4:00 pm July 31, 2013 #

  11. I am totally guilty of this and need to remember to not leave my purse in the car to run into a store or anywhere! I hope this all ends well for you :(

    Comment by hollywood — 4:13 pm July 31, 2013 #

  12. She resembles one of the “homeless” women that frequent the entrances of Westwood Village asking for $$.

    Comment by candy — 4:17 pm July 31, 2013 #

  13. Oh no, that looks like me! Hope my day/week doesn’t get anymore interesting.:)
    Sorry to hear about your theft. I hope they nail them.

    Comment by Not me — 4:29 pm July 31, 2013 #

  14. Man, I wish I would have seen this earlier! I swear on my way home from work earlier, I saw these two people across from Westwood Village waiting for one of the rapid ride buses. The guy was balding and had a beard and the lady (which this woman looks like) was sitting on a bunch of stuff.

    Nice, the clerks noticed the most distinguishing thing was the expensive hand bag, because the people buying hundreds of dollars worth of stuff at a time looked homeless (at least the two I saw). Wouldn’t that raise a red flag just enough to maybe ask for I.D. with the purchase of several hundred dollars at a time?!

    Comment by Eric — 4:31 pm July 31, 2013 #

  15. Rather than check ID, we should move to the chip and pin system that the rest of the world uses. It’s not completely secure (nothing is), but requiring a 4 digit pin instead of a signature is at least one more step in the right direction.

    Comment by Andrew Beck — 4:42 pm July 31, 2013 #

  16. BTW, any update about these two and credit card fraud? Especially considering that people were able to identify at least one of them and give a name, which according to replies were given to the detective.

    http://westseattleblog.com/2013/01/west-seattle-crime-watch-recognize-these-women-plus-burglars-take-

    Comment by Eric — 4:51 pm July 31, 2013 #

  17. Eric,
    The handbag she was wearing is the stolen purse mentioned in the article. I wouldn’t want to be I.D’d because I shopped looking like crap one day while wearing my expensive purse. It seems like wearing pajama bottoms is an old trend and I wouldn’t want to be judged based on what I was wearing.

    Comment by Alki Resident — 5:28 pm July 31, 2013 #

  18. She must look like Rich’s wife, because I’m SURE they all asked for ID… Whenever I am asked for id, I say “thanks for checking”. Kudos to O’Reilly’s for getting the photo out!

    Comment by Robin — 5:32 pm July 31, 2013 #

  19. I’d heard this anecdotally as a retail cashier, but this two year old link to Consumer Reports confirms, that Visa and Mastercard prohibit merchants from making customers provide ID. Apparently, AMEX has no such requirement.

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2011/02/can-a-merchant-require-id-for-a-credit-or-debit-card-purchase/index.htm

    .

    So, the fault lies with the card companies’ corporate bigshots, and the retail employees and businesses take it in the you-know-where.

    .

    Also, even if merchants were allowed to ask for ID, it’s a bit of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t scenario for the retail employees. It sometimes seems that a cashier could get as many customers complaining that they were not asked to show their ID; “How do you know this card belongs to me, and that it isn’t stolen?”, as those that would complain about being asked to show their ID, because they are either trying to pass a stolen card, or, are the legitimate cardholder, and are insulted that you would “accuse” them of being a thief.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 5:48 pm July 31, 2013 #

  20. The stores dont care. they made their sale. the money comes from the credit card company which ultimately comes from you and I paying higher fees.

    Comment by smokeycretin9 — 6:08 pm July 31, 2013 #

  21. Similar thing happened to us recently at met market, we contacted the vendors at which the stolen cards were used but they could not release the video to us and the detective assigned to the case was “too busy” to do his job. How did you get the footage?

    Comment by rg — 6:29 pm July 31, 2013 #

  22. That’s why I have my picture ON all my credit cards. It’s a free option at Bank of America..

    Comment by Sara — 6:59 pm July 31, 2013 #

  23. What I have done on the back of my credit/debit cards where the signature is SUPPOSED to be is I’ve written “ask for my ID”. Some clerks say “wow that’s a good idea” and others just look at me like I’m crazy but once you’ve had something stolen from you it’s worth the extra couple of minutes.

    Comment by nemobeansmom — 7:23 pm July 31, 2013 #

  24. AR: Eric,
    The handbag she was wearing is the stolen purse mentioned in the article. I wouldn’t want to be I.D’d because I shopped looking like crap one day while wearing my expensive purse. It seems like wearing pajama bottoms is an old trend and I wouldn’t want to be judged based on what I was wearing.

    Eric: Uhhh yes, I know the handbag was stolen, though why it pertains to your reply, I don’t know. If this is the same woman that I saw, it is far passed the idea of “looking like crap” one day. The lady looked homeless with a serious drug and/or alcohol problem. Obviously the handbag looked so out of place on this woman that this is what the store clerks remembered about her according to the original report.

    Now if some woman who looked homeless with a serious drug and/or alcohol problem and one of the first things that came to mind was the expensive handbag seemed out of place in this scenario, and the woman was buying hundreds of dollars worth of stuff at one time, it would raise enough of a red flag for me as a clerk to ask for ID if permissible by store policy. Sorry, I’m just not that PC I guess.

    BTW, even on my best day, if I’m at a store spending 100′s of dollars at one time and the clerk doesn’t ask me for my ID, I always ask the clerk aren’t they are going to check my ID?

    Comment by Eric — 7:25 pm July 31, 2013 #

  25. Andi,

    Sorry, but actually writing “Check ID” or “See ID” on the signature line on the back of your card actually VOIDS the card. I used to do this exact thing, until a store manager informed me of the rule, which I promptly looked up on multiple sites (including those for Visa & Mastercard themselves).

    Anyways, but yes, having the clerks actually do the job and check ID against name on card would stop thieves in their tracks.

    Comment by prowler66 — 8:18 pm July 31, 2013 #

  26. The credit card companies could easily make credit cards less valuable to thieves. Most cards in Canada and a lot of other places have gone to chip embedded cards. To use the card you push it into the terminal which reads the chip. You have to punch in your pin code on the terminal for it to authorize the purchase. Sure determined thieves can probably get around this but these opportunistic grab and spend guys would not.

    Comment by Dal Lockwood — 8:20 pm July 31, 2013 #

  27. Large companies don’t care one way or the other. It’s all about scale. The world’s largest e-tailer doesn’t bother going after their own employees’ theft (other than firing them when someone gets around to it) as it’s considered immaterial if it’s under $1M in loss.

    Comment by Ajax — 8:34 pm July 31, 2013 #

  28. thieves make me so mad.

    Comment by LFauntleroy — 9:07 pm July 31, 2013 #

  29. They didn’t happen to use a rewards card at Safeway, did they? Sometimes it’s the little habits that help catch thieves…
    I hope they are caught soon.

    Comment by Native to Seattle — 9:35 pm July 31, 2013 #

  30. Actually under the Card Act a merchant can ask for ID. The reason the US hasn’t moved to the EMV (chip and pin) is that all of the infrastructure isn’t here, though it will be required by 2015 that merchants have the chip and pin terminals or they will take the hit on the stolen card ( now the Financial institutions take all of the losses where the card is used). That’s part of the reason merchants pay interchange fees as the banks have to recoup some of the cost of fraud.

    The change over to chip and pin has been slow, also, due to the fact that MasterCard and Visa didn’t agree to a format until today. It will be very expensive until there are some economies of scale. Right now, it is close to $5 to produce each card.

    That said, the hologram on the card was supposed to stop counterfeiters and it took about a week before counterfeit cards were coming out of Asia. As long as there are thieves, they will figure out how to get around new thief proof technologies.

    Comment by Magpie — 9:51 pm July 31, 2013 #

  31. Andrew Beck – completely agree with you. The pin system with a chip in the card is a step in the right direction for sure. Has been really effective in Canada for secure purchase transaction.

    Comment by Sassy — 9:52 pm July 31, 2013 #

  32. So again, out of curiousity, is there a follow up to these two?

    http://westseattleblog.com/2013/01/west-seattle-crime-watch-recognize-these-women-plus-burglars-take-

    Comment by Eric — 4:51 am August 1, 2013 #

  33. I abhor thieves – I SO hope she’s caught along with the miscreant male, and that they both go to prison for a long, long time. No doubt both have prior convictions for thefts.

    Comment by scubafrog — 6:51 am August 1, 2013 #

  34. Unless the victim happens to see this and provides an update – no.

    Comment by WSB — 7:07 am August 1, 2013 #

  35. hope they catch them.

    I’ve had the same experience as prowler66 when it comes to “check ID” on the back of the card. one retailer told me that without a signature the card is not valid and she ‘could confiscate my credit card if she wanted to’

    Comment by sam-c — 9:10 am August 1, 2013 #

  36. Eric says he saw them waiting across from Westwood waiting for the Rapid Ride–there are cameras at the bus stop? Are there cameras in the new buses? I wonder…

    Comment by AJP — 9:11 am August 1, 2013 #

  37. Neighbors: Don’t leave anything so tempting in your vehicles! Your cars are not secure! I’m not blaming the victim, but if you want to get rid of rats, you have to eliminate their food sources! Likewise, with human vermin, we must foreclose and reduce their opportunities to prey upon us by keeping valuables out of our cars, out of plain sight, and secured where the thieves can’t easily grab them and run.

    Comment by pjmanley — 10:01 am August 1, 2013 #

  38. The bus stop by Roxhill Park across from Westwood is a frequent stop for shoplifters to “unpack” their goods. Observed lately: young, white male cracking open dozens of large plastic boxes of razor blades stolen at QFC; young women taking off layers of clothing stolen from Target. Please note, I did not make these observations personally or I would have called police immediately. I found the evidence, then heard from witnesses. There really should be cameras at that bus stop, which is also used as a drug exchange and outdoor toilet. This bus stop is a public nuisance.

    Comment by anonyme — 10:08 am August 1, 2013 #

  39. The p.j’s should have gave it away to the cashier. Guess not.

    Comment by MRS.SR — 12:26 pm August 1, 2013 #

  40. Today at Target, I swiped my credit card through the box mounted at the end of the checkout counter, and put the card back in my wallet. When all the items had been rung up, I signed for them on the screen. The transaction took about a minute, and the card never went near the clerk. If I had stolen this credit card, I could have bought hundreds of dollars of merchandise with just a swipe and a scribble, no questions asked. I’d be willing to take more time at the counter if it meant transactions were overall more secure. Looking forward to chip and PIN!

    Comment by Luckie — 2:01 pm August 1, 2013 #

  41. I recently had my bag and wallet stolen here in West seattle, the bag was recovered without the cards, ID, thumbdrive, etc. I have a police report (13-246964)as they recovered the bag. However I was unable to get a follow up by the police to review the video, of the 4 late teen suspects fighting over the bag and contents. I was lucky to be able to cancel my cards, nearly at the time of the theft. (no call/msg to 733-9800 returned) and i was NOT going to call 911 for a follow up.

    I would suggest contacting TRW, or other credit agencies to put a fraud alert on report so you don’t become a victim twice or more.

    WSB can I add screen photos from the camera under a rant? “have you seen these kids or are they yours?”

    Comment by ar — 2:36 pm August 1, 2013 #

  42. You are welcome to send the information as Crime Watch provided the photo does indeed clearly show the suspect with the stolen property. editor@westseattleblog.com

    Comment by WSB — 2:48 pm August 1, 2013 #

  43. We had a car smash and grab in 2012 in one of the Port of Seattle Duwamish parks. As we were shutting down the cards I noted the locations, exact times and numbers of the machines as they were being used by the thieves.
    Even though they went to a different police jurisdiction, the police there retrieved the tapes and made a copy for us. We then delivered copies to SPD detectives and the Port Police. A month later Port Police arrested one of the thieves. He spent the next six months in jail with a new felony conviction for each of the three swipes he took with our cards.
    I encourage more victims to use this method to get these creeps off the streets.

    Comment by William Larson — 5:23 pm August 1, 2013 #

  44. Hey folks, can anyone remember recently -there was a gal (redhead), just like the one in this photo, that was breaking into homes in WS. She was the person in the car texting to her her male friend. He would go through the back doors of homes and grab items and walk out the front. Does this not look like the same gal that was texting the information to the person doing the break ins. They got into the silver BMW. Anyone remember?

    Comment by face — 8:52 am August 3, 2013 #

  45. This appears to be the story you’re recalling:
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2012/11/west-seattle-crime-watch-burglary-victims-advice

    Comment by WSB — 8:54 am August 3, 2013 #

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