Gamblers with wads of cash are being followed home from local casinos and then robbed at gunpoint.
The victims have been targeted after gambling or leaving their jobs at casinos in Tukwila and South Seattle.
In each case, they were followed to their homes in Seattle, Redmond and Puyallup where the violent crimes occurred. Some victims were pistol-whipped and their jewelry was ripped off their bodies.
People leaving the Roman Casino on Renton Avenue South in Seattle have been targeted three times in a week.
One of the victims, Martha Staff’s roommate, was robbed of $2,000 cash and a cellphone outside her South Seattle home on the night of Oct. 6.
Staff said she heard the robbery as it happened below her bedroom window.
The victim had just come home from working at the Roman Casino.
“She had just driven up, and she was getting out of her car, and two men who were hiding around the bush came out, put a gun to her head and said, ‘Give me your purse and your money,’” said Staff.
According to police documents obtained by KIRO 7, detectives from three local agencies are investigating five violent robberies between Oct. 1 and Oct. 7.
In two cases, victims who came out of the Great American Casino on Interurban Avenue in Tukwila were followed home and then robbed at gunpoint.
The other three cases originated at the Roman Casino on Renton Avenue South.
One man was robbed of $800 at gunpoint and then kicked in the chest.
Police believe the robberies are the work of five men working together who are all believed to be gang members from Seattle.
Investigators said they followed their victims to homes as far as Pierce County.
“They’re obviously pretty dangerous. They’re following people home from casinos at night and we believe it’s planned,” said Pierce County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Ed Troyer.
According to police documents, investigators have an idea of who’s responsible for the crimes.
Managers at the Great American Casino said they are so concerned about the robberies that they’re offering customers checks instead of cash.
The Roman Casino would only say that it’s cooperating with police.