Redmond police think they've caught 'Movie Bandits'
Redmond police have arrested a man and woman who are believed to be responsible for dozens of home and vehicle break- ins. The pair is suspected of breaking into parked vehicles and stealing the registration, which they used to find the vehicle owner's home.
Seattle Times staff reportert
Avoid being a victim
To avoid being victimized by car prowlers who are also looking for vehicle registration, police offer the following tips:
• Never keep identifying information inside vehicles. Instead, carry it with you, or have it tucked away somewhere that's difficult to find.
• Remove garage-door openers and any other valuables from your car.
• If you have a GPS in the vehicle, don't set "HOME" to your actual home address. Instead, put the address to a nearby shopping center or the police station.
• Keep a log and pictures of your property and keep it in a safe place in case items are stolen.
If you believe you may have been a victim of the "Movie Bandits," Redmond police have created a Web page where possible victims can learn how to recover stolen items: www.redmond.gov/PublicSafety/Police/property
Source: Redmond Police Department
In late March, Marti Lundberg walked out of a Lynnwood movie theater and saw what she first thought was spilled milk on her car seat.
Taking a closer look, she realized the white-ish particles were actually pieces of glass. Someone had busted into her Mercury Mariner and stolen everything — even her reusable grocery sacks — from the SUV.
But it wasn't until she returned to her Mill Creek home that she realized the thieves had also been there. When her SUV was prowled, the thieves had also taken her vehicle registration, which they used to get her address. They then went to her house and made off with a computer, heirloom jewelry, passports and other valuables belonging to Lundberg and her husband, Craig.
"They took my favorite overnight bag and my shoes for work," Marti Lundberg said. "It's really hard because they took so many things that can't be replaced. Family heirlooms were gone."
Redmond police say the couple are among dozens of victims of the so-called "Movie Bandits," a pair of thieves who stole vehicle registrations during car prowls to find targets for home burglaries. The nickname reflects the fact that the thieves targeted vehicles parked in public places, such as shopping centers and movie theaters.
The extent of the crime spree was unclear to the Lundbergs until they met with Redmond police almost two weeks ago and learned more than 50 other families had been victimized in the string of thefts.
On Wednesday, police announced they had solved the string of break-ins with the arrests in August of a 36-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man, both from Bothell, in connection with the crime spree. Police believe the pair was responsible for at least 27 residential burglaries and 17 vehicle prowls — numbers that are likely to grow.
"This [case] is continually evolving," said Redmond police spokesman Jim Bove. "In the last 24 hours we added five [more victims] and have had 30 more phone calls from people saying this happened to them."
Investigators think the Bothell duo have been committing crimes since November, Bove said.
He would not say what led police to the Bothell pair, other than to say the link was made as detectives were investigating other cases. It also isn't clear why police did not announce the arrests until this week.
The duo was arrested on Aug. 1 when officers went to Bothell to arrest the woman for suspicion of rendering criminal assistance. When officers pulled her car over, the male suspect jumped out and ran. A police dog chased him down.
The woman was arrested but later released pending criminal charges, Bove said. She has a minor criminal history in municipal court. The Times is not naming her because she has not been charged.
The man, Joshua Clark, is being held at the King County Jail in lieu of $225,275 bail for a number of property-crime allegations. In January, he was charged in Snohomish County with attempting to elude police and possession of stolen property.
Bove said that Redmond police are still working on the paperwork they need to file with King County prosecutors to seek criminal charges in connection with the break-ins. Adding to the complexity of the case is the number of jurisdictions where Redmond police believe the suspects have committed crimes, including Bellevue, Brier, Edmonds, Everett, Kirkland, Lynnwood, Marysville, Medina, Mountlake Terrace, Mount Vernon, Mukilteo, Shoreline and Wenatchee, as well as unincorporated Snohomish and King counties.
The Lundbergs are trying to get back to normal. Marti Lundberg said there's still fingerprint-powder stains on their carpet and she's still upset when she thinks about coming home to find things missing.
"It was really amazing that such a small group of people wreaked havoc on such a large group of people's lives," she said.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.