One-day citywide crackdown on shoplifting nets 49 arrests in Seattle

Seattle Police officers working with stores involved the city’s Retail Theft Program conducted a citywide shoplifting emphasis on Thursday that yielded 49 arrests.

Eight businesses, including major brands like Home Depot, Lowe's, Target and Fred Meyer, participated in the undercover operations.

The emphasis was part of the Mayor’s "Operation New Day" which is intended to focus on crime spots in the city. Shoplifting has become nearly a daily hardship for stores throughout the region.

"This emphasis is something that was asked for by the City and directed to us from City Hall because retail theft is a priority" said SPD Officer Aaron Johnson who was part of a 12-officer unit that targeted the Lowe's on Rainier Avenue South.

SPD’s Community Response Group were joined by patrol officers, detectives of the General Investigative Unit, Narcotics and other units in operations performed in each of the city’s five police precincts.

City and county prosecutors also participated in the emphasis.

Police say their emphasis is to go after people stealing not because of poverty but because of profit.

"A lot of time when we apprehend somebody they will immediately tell us 'I've been let off in the past, I’m usually going to sell these items. I’m a user,'" said SPD Sargent Jamison Maehler.

Seattle Police say 13 people were booked for various felony changes and verified warrants.

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Police attempted to arrest two of those individuals in the Lowe's parking on Rainier Avenue when the suspect’s vehicle, a Dodge Durango raced out of the parking lot.

Inside the Durango, was the shoplifter police say carted out a boxed memory foam mattress and some pillows without paying.

Police didn't engage in a vehicle pursuit because there was a baby inside the Durango, and it was a case of shoplifting, a non-violent crime.

"This crime and the fact we knew a child was on board both dictate it's not worth that risk," said Johnson.

Undercover officers tailed the Durango for 10 miles until it stopped in a parking lot of an apartment building on Lake City Way.

The driver was arrested for eluding police and reckless endangerment of a child, and is currently being held in jail on $10,000 bail. 

King County prosecutors said she was a flight risk having 21 warrants for her arrest in the last 13 years, including 3 open warrants.

Custody of her 10-month-old boy was handed over to her cousin, police said.

The man is currently being held in jail on several parole violations and has not been charged with the shoplifting theft.

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Mayor Bruce Harrell announced Thursday that a nationwide search for the next permanent Seattle Police Chief will officially start in April.

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