South Sound News

Police search for jewelry theft suspects

Puyallup police are investigating if the two suspects who were caught on camera stealing jewelry from the South Hill Mall may be tied to similar burglaries in the area. 
Surveillance video shows the suspects breaking into Sears on Feb. 5 at 3:30 a.m. The video shows the burglars looking closely at each display case before smashing the glass. The video shows one suspect struggle to crack the wall of a display case with a crowbar. An estimated $15,000 in gold jewelry was stolen from Sears in two minutes, according to Capt. Ryan Portmann. 
“Clearly the people knew what they were going after and probably targeted Sears specifically,” he said. 

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Portmann said it’s rare for people to break into a store in the mall. The fact that no alarms went off is even more unusual, he explained.

"For whatever reason, this day it malfunctioned. ... They didn't get alerted until well after the fact."
Detectives are investigating whether this could have been an "inside job." It's not the first time a Sears in the area was targeted.

According to police reports, a Sears manager told police a “number of Sears stores in the area have recently been burglarized but the diamonds had all been stolen in those incidents.” That’s why the manager at the South Hill location locked the diamonds in a safe. Detectives said the “suspects appeared surprised that there was no diamond jewelry in the display case.”

One day before the smash and grab, a similar burglary was reported at the Sears in Westfield Southcenter Mall in Tukwila, which is roughly 30 miles north of the South Hill Mall. Detectives are investigating if the same burglars are behind both smash and grabs.

"They did a little bit of intelligence gathering prior to the burglary," Portmann said. 
According to the Jeweler's Security Alliance, smash and grabs similar to what happened at Sears went up 40 percent since 2015.

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