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Bold bike shop crooks: Help ID sneaky trio caught on camera distracting clerk to steal from store

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Pierce County Sheriff’s Detectives are asking for help identifying three women accused of stealing from a bike shop in Puyallup’s South Hill area.  It’s how they did it that makes you wonder what other victims they may have left behind.

It was all caught on surveillance camera: At first look, a woman appears to be a legitimate customer, telling the store clerk at ‘Inspired Ride Bicycles’ that she’s looking for a bike for one of her  grandchildren, but owner Nier Brittain says that wasn’t her real reason for being there, “She was here to engage the salesman and to distract him.” The video shows two more women come into the store soon after the first suspect and immediately walk over to the wall holding bike accessories — and then start stealing. “She’s putting stuff in her purse and down her shirt and in her pants and any pocket they could, there’s was two of them and they were loading up any pocket they could find so.”

Pierce County detectives say the women took almost $900 worth of items including a Garmin Edge GPS and an expensive set of bike pedals. “It was all price focused,” said Brittain. “When we went back and did inventory, everything that was missing was more expensive.”

The whole time they were stealing, detectives say the distractor was doing a good job by clearly trying keep the clerk from looking back. After a while, he does ask the two women if they need something. Their reply? They are just waiting for the woman he's helping. "It was obvious they were in there to shoplift and they were able to get away with it because the employee got advantage taken of him," said Pierce County Det. Ed Troyer.

Brittain installed his surveillance camera two years ago after a thief came in and stole a bike. It only cost about $150 dollars and is a great investment for any small business plagued by thieves. "It's frustrating to watch it afterwards,” he says. “Because, you realized you could have done better, there are things you could have done when people are in the store but it is nice to have it and it's something you can give to the police."

He says the theft has been a good teaching moment for the clerk. "I told him afterwards you can never close your back off to anybody in the store at anytime."

Brittain opened ‘Inspired Ride Bicycle’ 5 years ago with the goal of being an ambassador for the sport of cycling. He says thefts like this hurt. "I don't know that they need to go sit in jail for 20 years but they need to suffer for it."

Because of the theft, he's getting ready to install magnetic looks on each hook, something he wishes he didn't have to do. "The innocent, honest customer who comes in here then starts to feel like they're a criminal when it's not focused on them at all. But, he knows it's a necessary precaution in case this trio or other thieves hit his store again.

Detectives say the three suspects took off together in a gray Toyota sedan.

If you recognize them, submit the information via the P3 Tips App to Crime Stoppers or call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

You could be in line for up to a $1,000 cash reward if your information leads to his arrest.

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