TACOMA — The method is the same each time: A stolen car slams through the entrance of a marijuana shop, shattering glass and scattering debris everywhere. A group of masked thieves rushes in, ransacks the place and flees in another stolen car.
It’s happened five times in the past week in the South Sound. The latest break-in came early Saturday at The Green Lady, a business in West Olympia.
“They got maybe $300 worth of stuff and did thousands of dollars of damage,” said owner Mike Redman. “The stuff they grabbed wasn’t even that high-level.”
Video of the Olympia incident shows the same swift smash-and-grab approach as a similar incident in Tacoma early Friday. In that case, multiple thieves exchanged gunfire with a security guard before fleeing. One suspect might have been hit, Tacoma police said.
A third, earlier incident, previously unreported, came Oct. 23 at The Gallery, a marijuana business in the Summit area of Pierce County. Like the incidents in Tacoma and Olympia, the thieves used a stolen car to ram the entrance, and rushed inside.
“The video showed several subjects peering in the window of the business, with their faces covered, and then the vehicle driving though the front of the business,” said Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesperson Darren Moss. “Once the vehicle crashed through, three subjects dressed in black clothing, possibly wearing masks and gloves, ran in and started to fill up bags with merchandise. A fourth suspect exited the vehicle that drove through the building and followed suit.”
Moss said the owner of the stolen vehicle hadn’t discovered the theft at the time of the incident at The Gallery.
Two more ramming-style break-ins occurred at Auburn marijuana shops: on Oct. 24 at the Evergreen Market and Oct. 28 at The Stash Box, said Auburn Police spokesperson Kolby Crossley. The latter incident took place on the same day as the Tacoma break-in that led to gunfire.
“Both are the same m.o.,” Crossley said. “Ram front of store, followed by several subjects on foot. Then flee in multiple vehicles.”
So far, police haven’t found the suspects in any of the break-ins, but they’re looking at the possibility that the same crew is involved in all five.
“Same m.o,” said Moss.
The same crew?
Lt. Paul Lower, spokesperson for the Olympia Police Department, described similar circumstances at The Green Lady break-in. The mayhem started around 3:30 a.m.
“Video showed the vehicle crash into the front of the business,” Lower said. “What appeared to be four or five suspects rushed in, ransacked it, fled out and ran into a second vehicle.”
As in the Tacoma and Pierce County incidents, the vehicles used in The Green Lady break-in were reported stolen out of Pierce County. Lower said Olympia police relayed the information to the Thurston County Sheriff’s office Saturday morning.
Deputies spotted the vehicle fleeing north on I-5, but could not catch up to it.
“We’ve got information that this may be similar to other incidents in Pierce County,” Lower said.
Redman said Sunday that Tacoma police have asked him about the incident. Spokesperson Wendy Haddow, asked about the similarities among the break-ins, said police are aware.
“That will be part of the investigation,” she said.
While the break-ins are frightening and damaging, Redman thinks the crew of thieves isn’t too smart. They grabbed low-level marijuana and little else.
“It is kind of strange that they’re doing all that work and really not getting much out of this,” he said.