‘I wish something could be done’: Fred Meyer managers, shoppers say theft consuming Everett stores

EVERETT, Wash. — Employees at Fred Meyer stores in Everett are asking city officials for more help to address organized retail theft.

Ron Biley, who shops regularly at the Fred Meyer on Evergreen Way in Everett, said he’s witnessed it first-hand.

“I’ve seen workers actually try to stop people from stealing, and then the people (who are) stealing want to fight the workers. A few weeks ago, I had to intervene,” Biley said. “It’s sad. I hate that my daughter sees this. I wish something could be done about it.”

Fred Meyer managers David Webster and Tyler Stumpf shared their concerns with Everett City Council during Wednesday’s meeting. They both said they’re out of options, which have included private security, video monitoring devices, and calling law enforcement when incidents occur.

“The level of theft is making our customers afraid,” Webster said on Wednesday, claiming his employees have had their cars stolen and vandalized. He also claimed one of his employees was abducted in the parking lot. Everett police could not confirm or deny if these claims were accurate.

Stumpf, a manager at the Fred Meyer on Evergreen Way, told council members about an organized theft ring at his store.

“The drug dealers show up in their cars. They give the users a list of what they need to come in and steal, and they come steal. They leave drug paraphernalia all over the store, whether it’s needles or foils from the fentanyl. They also use our restrooms as a place to shoot up or do fentanyl. We have an open-air drug market,” Stumpf said on Wednesday. “We just need some help and some support.”

This past June, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the creation of the statewide Organized Retail Crime Theft Task Force. It focuses on organized crime rings that account for about $70 billion in retail losses nationwide.

Washington retailers lost $2.7 billion to organized retail crime in 2021, according to an analysis by the Retail Industry Leaders Association.