Five coffee stands in King and Pierce counties targeted, adding to recent strings of robberies

KING and PIERCE COUNTIES, Wash. — Five coffee stands were targeted by robbers Thursday night into the early hours of Friday morning in King and Pierce counties, but the suspects were not always successful. Investigators believe the same suspects may be behind the crime spree.

The first robbery happened in Tacoma on Thursday night just after 10:30 p.m. Police were called to a coffee stand on East 72nd for an armed robbery where the suspects fled in a vehicle.

Also on Thursday, there were two attempted robberies in Puyallup between 11 p.m. and midnight. Both happened at different Big Foot Java stands where the suspects, a man, and a woman, were driving a dark-colored, four-door sedan, according to Puyallup police.

“I just can’t believe how many locations got hit. It’s scary honestly,” said Hailey Halford, a barista at one of the targeted coffee shops. “Sad to say, but we’re obviously prepared for it to happen and it’s kind of expected now. I’m glad Bigfoot has everything in place so everyone is prepared,” she said.

According to police, victims described the female suspect as Hispanic, in her mid-20s to early 30s, about 5 feet, 4 inches tall, with long black hair and a slight build. She was wearing dark clothes and a mask. In one incident, the man remained in the driver’s seat of the car while the woman walked up to the coffee stand, demanded cash, and implied that she had a gun.

“In one of the robberies the individual did say if you don’t provide the money, we’re going to come back and shoot the place up,” said Captain Ryan Portmann with the Puyallup Police Department. “The barista closed the window and the person drove off,” he said.

The man was only described as being Asian or Hispanic.

In both Puyallup cases, the victims refused to turn over any cash and the suspects fled empty-handed.

“The cases are preliminarily believed to be associated with a series of similar robberies that occurred in the region (Thursday night),” Puyallup police said in a news release.

Early Friday, there was another incident, this time in Sumner. At about 12:05 a.m., police were called to a robbery at a coffee stand on 136th Avenue. In that case, the suspects were two women and a man. One of the suspects implied they had a weapon and got away with some cash, according to Sumner police.

At about 12:50 a.m. Friday, another robbery happened in SeaTac at a Big Foot Java stand on Military Road South near 200th Street. King County Sheriff’s Office deputies said a vehicle with three people inside pulled up to the stand’s window, implied they had a gun, and demanded money.

In recent weeks, KIRO7 has covered multiple strings of robberies, where one group of suspects targets multiple businesses in crime sprees.

“Is that something that’s becoming more common?” KIRO7′s Deedee Sun asked.

“It is becoming more common, I agree with you that over the last several weeks we’ve seen a number of robbery series, 7-Elevens, now Big Foot Java. It does appear to be happening more frequently than I can recall in the past,” Portmann said.

A 7-Eleven in Sumner next to the Big Foot Java just robbed overnight was also robbed at gunpoint last month.

“It kind of makes us worry,” said a manager who goes by Fahim. “It’s hard finding the employees who will work at night time… I think the police need to step a little more - even though they’re helping a lot, just a little more,” he said.

Puyallup police say they are taking note and planning to staff up at businesses open 24-7. Portmann said filing reports or completing paperwork near businesses more likely to be targeted can help bring peace of mind to employees – and let potential criminals know officers are close by.

“For our patrol folks to be out and be more vigilant,” Portmann said.

No one was hurt in any of the five incidents.