Prolific East Precinct Soap Thief Captured

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee September 30, 2010

In the last few months, we've come across a few confounding reports of detergent heists at Capitol Hill grocery stores (seriously, who steals detergent?).

We'd heard several theories from officers and detectives about the detergent thefts—that the soap was being used to cut cocaine, or sold as bunk (fake) coke—but it appears the truth is far less sinister. Sort of.

According to SPD records, on August 13th, Police arrested Timothy Pruitt, 44, at a Capitol Hill QFC after he tried to leave the store with $102 worth of Tide detergent hidden in a suitcase.

Store security tried to stop Pruitt, who dropped the case and fled on foot. Security officers were able to chase Pruitt down and detain him while they called police.

Security staff told officers that Pruitt had been involved in at least six other similar thefts at other Safeway and QFC stores in the East and South Precincts—including the QFC on Broadway and Pine, and Safeways on Madison and Rainier Ave S—between June and August.

When police interviewed Pruitt—who told officers he was a homeless drug addict—he admitted to the thefts, and told officers he and a female accomplice had stolen more than $2,000 worth of detergent, shampoo and other health care products from stores, and resold them.

"These type of items...are known to be popular products for smaller stores to buy for re[sale]," Detective Mel Britt wrote in a search warrant affidavit.

Pruitt and his female acquaintance told police they sold the stolen items to "Mexican families," and admitted to over 30 thefts in total.

Court records don't appear to indicate that Pruitt has been charged, but we'll report back as soon as we talk to the prosecutor's office.

It appears police are still attempting to find out where Pruitt resold his stolen goods.

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