EVERETT, Wash. -- Everett Police say thieves working in a large crime ring are targeting lockers and stealing people’s wallets, IDs, and other valuables while victims work out at gyms and fitness centers.
The crimes have been happening throughout the Puget Sound for at least three months, police say. Officials say these crooks are also behind similar thefts in Oregon and California.
Police say one suspect told detectives he committed 30 thefts in the past six months.
Everett Police say they are investigating more than 20 reported cases with financial fraud in the thousands of dollars.
“It’s a violation; hard to explain exactly what it’s like. You’d have to go through it, but it’s uncomfortable,” said Jesse Lowry.
Lowry says his wallet and ID were stolen from him while he worked out at an Everett gym.
He says all he could do was sit and wait for notifications on his phone alerting him that the thief was using his information to make purchases at stores just a few feet from where he stood.
“I couldn’t do anything, that’s what made me feel helpless,” said Lowry.
Police say these suspects will walk into gyms without signing in, pretending to log in, or using false names. The crooks then go into the locker rooms and act fast. Wallets, money, car keys, and in some cases, cars have been stolen by these crooks.
The thieves will then go to local stores and purchase gift cards with the stolen money and credit cards.
“They come into a town, they rent rooms at a local hotel, and then they go around and hit the various gyms, then they move out of town,” said Officer Aaron Snell with Everett Police.
Everett police say there is probable cause for ID theft, forgery, possession of stolen property, and theft for all of these suspects.
Police say, if you can, leave valuables at home if you’re going to the gym. If you can’t, invest in a heavy-duty lock. It may cost more, but it could save you not just money, but headaches.
These suspects are still on the loose. Police ask if you have any information to call Everett Police Department Tip Line at (425) 257-8450, send an email tip to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also submit a tip to Crime Stoppers through the P3 Tips App that you can download for free on any smartphone, or by calling the hotline at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).