Sunnyside police are still searching for a man who posed as a police officer and stole another man's wallet back on Feb. 20. But Sunnyside detectives aren't the only ones looking for the culprit. Law enforcement from across the state are perplexed by the highly efficient thieves who are posing as police officers across the state.
"It's happened in Yakima, in Tri-Cities, Seattle, Federal Way and SeaTac," said Sunnyside Police Department Det. Jim Orth, who said local detectives have worked with Seattle police on the crimes.
The recent hit at the Mid Valley Mall wasn't the criminal's first trip to Sunnyside, he added. In the Feb. 20 incident, the victim was lured outside the local mall and robbed of his wallet.
Within two days in each community, the thieves, who have a specific pattern, strike at a mall and a Wal-Mart store, said Orth.
"It's like they run a route along the interstate," said Orth.
Police are unsure of how many people are involved in the group, but suspect there are two or three who are robbing people, without violence, across the state.
The recent cases are not the first in Sunnyside.
"We've got cases from last year we're still looking into," said Orth. "All the cases are very similar across the state."
Orth said that a person dressed as a police officer or security guard approaches their victim inside the building and asks them to leave the facility. Once outside, the officer asks the victim for their wallet.
"No police officer or security guard is going to ask you for your wallet," said Orth. "They may ask for ID, but they will ask you to take it out of a wallet."
In each of the cases the incident begins inside the building and then moves outside, he said.
"Ask for a store manager and don't leave the building with them," Orth warns those who may come in contact with the thieves.
Making a scene will draw police to the incident, something else Orth said citizens want if they are being targeted for a robbery.