March 22, 2019 On March 15th, 2019, the Seattle Police Department announced the arrest of ten people in a string of theft operations. Law enforcement reports that the broad anti-theft operation used undercover officers from the Major Crimes Task Force Detectives and the North Anti-Crime Team officers. According to information provided by representatives of the Seattle Police, law enforcement obtained information that indicated that shoplifters were repeatedly targeting the Home Depot and Lowe’s home improvement stores. Indeed, the information suggested that serious shoplifting was occurring at these two stores on an almost daily basis. These two department stores in question are located about a block away from each other, in Aurora Avenue in the north side of the city. To carry out the sting operation, undercover Seattle police officers worked directly with employees from the store’s loss prevention departments. Suspects were charged with both misdemeanor and felony theft offenses. One suspect fled from police, and was also charged with several other criminal offenses. In Washington, the key difference between a misdemeanor theft charge and a felony theft charge is the value of the money, property, or services that were allegedly stolen. Under Washington state law (RCW §9A.56.040), a defendant may be charged with misdemeanor theft in the third degree if they are alleged to have stolen goods or services valued at $750 or less. However, when the alleged value of the theft exceeds $750, the defendant can be charged with a second degree felony offense. As explained by the Seattle criminal defense attorneys at the Nahajski Firm “Felony theft is an extremely serious offense in Washington. Under the state’s criminal code, a second degree felony is punishable by as much as five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Depending on the circumstances, a defendant could even face more serious penalties. If the unlawful taking of property involved actual physical violence or the threat of physical force, a defendant could face heightened criminal charges.” Local law enforcement has stated that property theft continues to be a high priority. Specifically, the Seattle Police Department reports that the Aurora Avenue corridor — a section of the city that is home to a number of different businesses — will continue to receive a heightened degree of emphasis and oversight from offices.