Bellevue police busted three major organized retail theft rings, goods worth more than $100,000

The Bellevue Police Department has broken up three major organized retail theft rings. Detectives said the accused thieves wreaked havoc on area stores, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.

In the first case, the suspected scammers targeted the Louis Vuitton store in Bellevue twice in June 2022. Four suspects were seen on surveillance video stealing $93,000 worth of merchandise. Detectives said the four suspects had “extensive criminal histories”. Police said a fifth suspect was selling the stolen items online.

“They’re very brazen. They use or tend to use violence,” Bellevue Police Department Capt. Shelby Shearer said. “They target high-end products such as high-end handbags and clothing. And they don’t care about security. And they come in and rip merchandise right off the shelves, sometimes damaging stores.”

In a second case in October and November 2021, police say Janay Luckey, 24, was filmed at Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack in Bellevue cutting security tags off items and walking out of the two stores with a total of $13,000 in goods. Investigators said Luckey faces robbery and trafficking charges in Bellevue. Police said Luckey was also charged in Seattle with retail theft over $84,000.

Detectives said they found these suspected scammers because members of their organized retail theft ring were selling the stolen goods online.

“Not only do we see them committing robberies in Bellevue, but on the same day they can take a trip to Southcenter Mall or Northgate and do the exact same thing,” Shearer said. “We hope this bust will put a huge blow in the robberies all around because there are so many players involved. Maybe we can get that message across and say it’s not tolerated in Bellevue or in the greater Seattle area.”

As detectives track down the whereabouts of the stolen merchandise, some of it has been recovered. The third case, for example, included 62 bottles of designer perfume totaling $7,000 stolen from Ulta Beauty in Factoria. Police said all items were returned to the store.

The King County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against the alleged thieves. This includes organized retail theft in the first degree and trafficking in stolen property in the first degree. The prosecutor’s office said additional charges could be filed in those cases.

“If convicted in this Bellevue case, that sentence could take years. And that’s what prosecutors will plead because this is behavior that needs to stop,” said Casey McNerthney, a spokesperson for the district attorney’s office.

Suspect Billy Chambers was part of the biggest robbery at Louis Vuitton and also has one of the group’s longest criminal records.

“He’s someone we certainly know. And every time we see felony cases for him, we go to the judges and say he’s someone who we think is a clear danger and needs to be at the high end of the sentencing range,” McNerthney said.

The prosecutor’s office said Chambers was released from prison for a previous retail theft case. He is notorious for his manslaughter conviction after he and another suspect beat Edward McMichael to death in 2008. McMichael was known as Seattle’s beloved “Tuba Man”.

“A lot of people ask how can you kill someone and still be out? The scariest part of the Tuba Man murder case was that we had to charge him with manslaughter because several witnesses weren’t speaking. and wouldn’t say what they saw. So we were limited to what we could get there,” McNerthney said.

Although bound by sentencing guidelines set by state lawmakers, the prosecutor’s office said it would ask suspected criminals, including Chambers, to see the maximum sentence in these retail theft cases. .

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that it’s the state legislators who set these guidelines. But what we’ll continue to do is go ahead in front of the judges and say that’s somebody representing a hazard, who doesn’t follow court orders, who needs to be given top of the line. Because that behavior, even with multiple felony convictions, doesn’t stop,” McNerthney said.

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