Police: Organized theft targeted booze, North Face coats

by: Casey McNerthney, KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

A repeat shoplifting suspect has been charged for organized retail theft and burglary after police say he stole thousands of dollars of liquor and clothing from Bellevue stores.

Police say he tried to steal $1,054 in North Face jackets from the Macy’s at Bellevue Square and also $1,816.55 worth of liquor from a Safeway store -- both on Nov. 24. But court documents say his pattern started long before that.

On May 10, police were called to the QFC at 10116 NE Eighth St. in Bellevue. Police said Mark Anthony Ford, who had been in the store before, took six Grey Goose vodka bottle and three other vodka bottles and left without paying.

“In the surveillance video, the suspect entered the store with a tote-style bag which (a QFC employee) claimed he had previously used to steal merchandise,” Bellevue police officer Elizabeth Banks wrote in a probable cause document.

On Nov. 14, the manager at the Bellevue Albertson’s, said Ford left without paying for three Grey Goose vodka gift sets and three Crown Royale bottles.

Ford then targeted the Bellevue Safeway on Nov. 24, stealing liquor and fleeing in a white Toyota Corolla that was registered to him, police said. Court documents show he also was recorded on video surveillance and the wine steward became suspicious when Ford placed several bottles face down in his cart – a common trait of shoplifters, police were told.

Since liquor privatization in fall 2012, thefts from grocery stores have been a significant problem. The grocers association and Washington police chiefs have been advocating for ways to address the problem,  but have not agreed on exactly what steps to take.

A second man who police believe was with Ford in the car was located near the Red Robin at Bellevue Square, but they could not tie him to a crime.

Later on Nov. 24, Ford was stopped by Macy’s loss prevention after stealing six North Face jackets and vests, police said.

But investigators say he was back on January, stuffing three North Face jackets into a Safeway shopping bag and running from police. He was recognized by a Macy’s loss prevention detective because Ford was trespassed form the store after his earlier incident there.

Ford, who lives in southwest Seattle, has a significant criminal history, including three felony theft convictions, a federal drug conviction, a federal conspiracy conviction and eight gross misdemeanor theft convictions. There have been at least 12 warrants issued for his arrest since 1985, according to court documents.

Ford is scheduled to have his arraignment, where he’ll enter a plea, March 24 in King County Superior Court.

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