The owner of Osaka Grill Teriyaki was loaded down with big white buckets as he left his restaurant at 1st Ave. and Pike St. Thursday night. He had just cut a deal to buy a case of iPads at rock-bottom prices—$1,400 for a lot of 20, worth about $10,000—and each of his buckets was packed full of tablet computers.
It turned out not to be such a great deal after all.
As the owner walked out the door of his shop, SPD Major Crimes Task Force detectives were waiting to arrest him.
Detectives had spent the last week undercover at the restaurant, after receiving a tip the teriyaki shop’s owners were also running a side business: buying stolen goods.
During the investigation, restaurant staff placed orders with undercover police for stolen iPhones, iPods and top shelf liquor—actually supplied to police by Fred Meyer and QFC stores—and later paid for the items right out of the shop’s cash register.
Detectives also took the unusual step of calling King County health inspectors during the course of the case, after they witnessed suspects handling raw meat, then money, then dishing up customers without putting on gloves or washing their hands. Health inspectors visited Osaka Grill on April 10th, and slapped them with an “unsatisfactory” review.
Detectives ended up selling electronics and booze to staff on 11 different occasions during the case, and finally asked the employees if they wanted to buy a case of stolen iPads. The owner agreed to pay $70 for each of the iPads.
Police brought the iPads to the restaurant around 7pm Thursday evening, and watched as the store’s owner, his wife and brother packed them into plastic buckets and carried them out the door.
Detectives arrested the trio, as well as six staff members, who had all purchased stolen goods from police during the investigation. Detectives booked the owner, his wife, and the owner’s brother into the King County Jail for trafficking stolen property and released the other six staff members.