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Police Arrest Suspect In String of Ballard Gas Station Thefts

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee May 24, 2010

Seattle police have arrested a man suspected of targeting unaware motorists in a string of thefts at several gas stations in Ballard earlier this month.

On May 14th, police received multiple reports of thefts at Safeway gas stations along 15th Ave NW.

Police records say security cameras captured the first theft at the gas pumps outside of the Safeway on 85th and 15th NW at about 7:15am.

According to police, surveillance footage shows the 44-year-old suspect walk up to a car and grab a woman's backpack—containing her cell phone, drivers license, green card, and credit cards—while she was distracted and pumping gas

The man apparently pulled the same stunt later that day at the Safeway on 15th NW and NW Market—about a half-mile away from the scene of the first theft—at about 3:15pm that day, and again at about 10:40pm. Police records say the man made off with wallets, credits cards, IDs, and a $400 coach purse, containing a pair of $700 prescription glasses.

The next day, officers reviewed tapes of the incidents and identified the 44-year-old man as their suspect. While police were at the Safeway on 85th and 15th Ave NW at about 10:30am, one officer actually spotted the suspect sitting in his 2004 Chevy Classic, getting ready to pull another heist. The man noticed police and drove off, but officers stopped him nearby.

Police say when they arrested the 44-year-old man, he was still in the same clothing he was wearing in the videos of the incidents the day before.

Police found numerous ID and credit cards on the man belonging to the victims and arrested him.

On the way to the precinct, the man told officers "that he was down on his luck and lamented how ashamed his family was going to be of him."

Jail records indicate the man has already been released from the King County Jail, where he has been booked three times since October. We're working to find out if charges have been filed.

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