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Wednesday, June 18, 2008 - Page updated at 02:21 PM

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Antique bandits strike N. Idaho shops

Police here are seeking a Washington state man and woman they allege used disguises and distraction to steal items from antique shops.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho —

Police here are seeking a Washington state man and woman they allege used disguises and distraction to steal items from antique shops.

Police have issued arrest warrants for John Parks Williamson, 44, and Martha R. Williamson, 51, both of Spokane, in connection with the thefts. Their relationship is unclear.

Coeur d'Alene police Sgt. Christie Wood said Spokane police arrested John Williamson when he tried to sell an item, but he was then released.

"We called Spokane (Tuesday) and asked them to go pick them up again," Wood told the Coeur d'Alene Press. "Eventually, they will end up here."

Police say that last week, the two entered the Antique Corner, and that Martha Williamson went to the back of the store and caused a distraction by waking the shop owner's grandson.

"Martha stood over the baby waving her arms and yelling 'Wake up baby, wake up!'" the police report states. "(The store owner) was scared for her grandson and didn't know what Martha was doing at this time. (The store owner) tried to get past Martha to get to her grandson, but Martha was blocking the way with her body. Martha leaned into (the store owner) and hit her with her shoulder and arm to push her away from the crib."

The store owner told police that, after comforting her grandson, she saw John Williamson put a $250 teapot under his coat and walk out of the store.

The report said that the store owner confronted the two in the parking lot, reaching into the blue station wagon to grab the teapot.

"John used his right hand in a closed fist to intentionally strike and hit (the store owner's) face 'five or six times,'" the police report said. "John also scratched (the store owner's) right forearm and was yelling at Martha saying, 'Momma, she crazy.' (The store owner) claimed that as the male suspect drove out of the parking lot he was dragging her."

The pair, police said, might also have been the ones who stole a $1,400 pickle castor from Wiggett's on June 5, this time wearing disguises.

Carolyn Berry, co-owner of Wiggett's, initially told police the woman was in her 70s.

"She had her hair pulled into a bun to make her look older," Berry said in the police report. "He was cleaned up and looked like a doggone businessman."

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After hearing a clink of glass, Berry said she looked up and noticed her pickle castor was gone.

She said the two then left the shop, with the man saying, "Come on, Mom, let's go have lunch."

Berry told police the man walked out of the store "leaving the slow moving elderly woman behind."

Berry said the pickle castor was sold to Kaleidoscope Antiques in Spokane, and that she was able to recover it.

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Information from: Coeur d'Alene Press, http://www.cdapress.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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