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Originally published Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 8:55 PM

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Arrest made after rash of purse thefts at Olympia pizza place

Olympia police believe a man arrested Wednesday had been directing small children to steal for him.


The Olympian

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OLYMPIA — Police say a 34-year-old man may be the ringleader of a pint-size band of thieves who have stolen purses from a Chuck E. Cheese on his behalf.

Olympia police arrested the man Wednesday after he left the pizza place at the Capital Mall, and employees called police.

When police pulled him over, an adult woman and three children, ages 7, 8 and 10, also were in the car.

Police Sgt. Aaron Jelcick said the man hasn’t yet been formally accused in the investigation.

Anyone with information that will assist detectives should call Jelcick at 360-753-8205.

Over the past month, there have been seven thefts of purses and diaper bags from the mall Chuck E. Cheese. In most of the cases, credit cards taken in the thefts were subsequently used at various locations in Pierce and Thurston counties.

Police identified a potential ringleader by watching video surveillance footage showing “a man in his 40s, directing two children under age 10 to steal unattended property and bring it to him in the restroom.”

Employees at the Chuck E. Cheese also were alerted to the man on the surveillance footage, and called police when he showed up at the restaurant on Wednesday.

Police think the man stole purses and credit cards from the Chuck E. Cheese at the Capital Mall between 15 and 20 times.



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