Four men suspected of trafficking items stolen from downtown stores were arrested last week as part of a crackdown on property crime in Seattle’s downtown core.
For two months, undercover officers followed the men to darkened alleyways, restaurant booths and alcoves around downtown, where they exchanged small amounts of cash for valuable stolen goods.
The operation came as part of an effort by the West Precinct to address car prowls and shoplifting around downtown. Members of the precinct’s Anti-Crime Team partnered with SPD’s Major Crimes Task Force and identified a small, prolific group of men buying stolen items around 3rd Avenue and Pike Street.
Police believe the traffickers were targeting low-level drug users, employing them to steal items from downtown stores and paying them a tenth of an items value.
When undercover officers, posing as thieves, approached the traffickers on the street, they gave the officers shopping lists of clothing items, specifying down to the size and color they wanted.
The morning on March 1st, investigators served search warrants at two apartments in Burien, a trailer in Federal Way and a home in Renton and arrested the four suspects.
At the Federal Way location alone, police recovered $17,000 worth of liquor, 75 boxes of perfume worth $6,000, purses, wallets, Tide detergent pods, jackets, jeans and sunglasses, and $50,000 in cash, all valued at $70,000.
The investigation also led police to a storage unit in Des Moines, where investigators recovered another $10,000 in stolen goods.
All told, investigators recovered $111,000 in stolen property and $50,000 cash during the operation. Police believe the men may have been shipping some of the items out of the country to be resold.
All four men were booked into the King County Jail for possession of stolen property and stolen property trafficking.