Bellevue police bust 'major' organized retail theft ring targeting Lululemon stores

In a significant crackdown on organized retail crime, Bellevue police have arrested members of a theft crew accused of stealing more than $500,000 worth of luxury apparel and activewear from Lululemon and other retailers across Western Washington and Northwest Oregon.

Investigators revealed that at least 42 stores were targeted by the crew. The brazen thefts involved suspects walking into stores as regular shoppers and swiftly making off with bulging bags and handfuls of stolen goods.

"These ladies would come in. They would immediately select high dollar clothing from different retailers, like Lululemon, Nordstrom, and Macy's, and then they would immediately exit and leave."

Bellevue Detective Jeff Christiansen noted the rampant thefts included Lululemon locations from Bellingham to Bellevue and from Tukwila to Tacoma, as well as multiple stores throughout the Greater Portland metropolitan area.

"We're talking about over a half million dollars worth of merchandise, and what that really translates to is increased costs for consumers," said Bellevue Police Officer Seth Tyler.

Police indicate that the thieves would often sell the stolen items for as little as 30 cents on the dollar, which could amount to $120,000 in cash.

According to Officer Tyler, the suspects employed several strategies to facilitate their crimes: "Oftentimes, the suspects would wear burqas or other baggy clothing that they would be able to hide the items in, bringing reusable bags, even garbage bags that they would fill completely full with these items."

images of the four suspect

Several people, including a few family members, were arrested in a multi-state organized retail theft ring. They stole over $537,000 of high-end merchandise in over 42 incidents.  (DOL images released by Bellevue Police Department)

In a coordinated effort with loss prevention officers from Lululemon who documented the thefts on video, Bellevue police identified three suspects. Two of them, 18-year-old Reality Leavens from Renton and 24-year-old Janeice Downs, were arrested last year in Glendale, California. Along with 26-year-old Memory Yearby, they are accused of stealing $30,000 worth of high-end bags. Downs and her mother were arrested on Tuesday at their home in Kent, where detectives found clothing worn during the thefts, one of the cars used, and three assault-style rifles.

"What is interesting to note is the suspects are actually convicted felons, so they're prohibited from possessing firearms," Officer Tyler added.

During her court appearance, the prosecutor detailed multiple counts of organized retail theft against Downs, asking for bail to be set at $750,000. The prosecutor said significant bail was necessary due to her being a flight risk—a concern highlighted by her having a plane ticket to Arizona for the same day as her arrest.

"This is repeated behavior. This is happening again and again. There is no reason to believe that if released, that behavior will change and she will suddenly stop committing those crimes," the prosecutor said.

Downs' defense attorney argued for a lower bail, emphasizing her client's strong community ties.

"Despite these various allegations over a number of months in which apparently, the police knew exactly where she was and allegations of what she was doing, She's here with a lot of support, so I don't think that she's going to flee. I would ask for a reasonable bail on these allegations to be ordered. We're asking for bail to be $10,000," the defense pleaded.

However, Judge Rhonda Laumann set Downs' bail at $250,000. In a surprise appearance, Downs' mother, Janeice Wiley, also her co-defendant, who was not booked after her arrest due to health issues, urged the court to consider the "Affordable Bail Act" and her daughter's role as a single parent.

"I understand the seriousness of the crimes, but I mean, for property crimes, $250,000? She has a child that she's the sole provider of," Wiley stated.

Despite the plea, Judge Laumann held firm on the bail amount, signaling a serious stance on organized retail theft.

"This sends a message that if you come to Bellevue to steal, we're gonna track you down no matter where you live and hold you accountable," Officer Tyler said.


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