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Thursday, January 19, 2017 This Week's Paper

Deputies try to ID trio of women stealing from small businesses

Pierce County Sheriff’s Detectives are asking for help identifying three women caught on surveillance video stealing from a bike shop in Puyallup’s South Hill area. Deputies say they may be suspects in other retail thefts as well.
Owner Nier Brittain at Inspired Ride Bicycles at 14712 Meridian Ave. E. says one woman came in and told his employee she was looking for a bike for one of her grandchildren. “She was here to engage the salesman and to distract him,” said Brittain.
The video shows two more women enter the store and immediately walk over to the wall holding bike accessories. “She’s putting stuff in her purse and down her shirt and in her pants and any pocket she could,” said Brittain.
Pierce County detectives say the women took almost $900 worth of items including a Garmin Edge GPS and an expensive set of bike pedals. “It was all price focused,” said Brittain. “When we went back and did inventory, everything that was missing was more expensive.”
The whole time they were stealing, detectives say the distracter continued to engage the clerk and ask questions to keep him from turning around. "It was obvious they were in there to shoplift and they were able to get away with it because the employee got the advantage taken of him," said Pierce County Det. Ed Troyer.
Brittain opened Inspired Ride Bicycles five years ago with the goal of being an ambassador for the sport of cycling. He says thefts like this hurt. "I don't know that they need to go sit in jail for 20 years but they need to suffer for it." Because of the theft, he's getting ready to install magnetic looks on each hook, something he wishes he didn't have to do. "The innocent, honest customer who comes in here then starts to feel like they're a criminal when it's not focused on them at all.” He knows it's a necessary precaution in case this trio or other thieves hit his store again.
“We value our businesses here in Pierce County and unfortunately, these organized theft rings are on the rise. We see groups of people going in and looking for the expensive items, distracting employees causing big dollar damage to the stores so we have a property crimes unit that's working hard to take these people off,” Troyer. 
Brittain says the three suspects took off together in a gray sedan. If you can identify any of them, call Crime Stoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County at 1 (800) 222-TIPS (8477). You could be in line for up to a $1,000 cash reward if your information leads to an arrest in the case.

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