WANTED IN LACEY —
Take a good look at a woman wanted by Lacey Police: From her smile, she looked pretty happy as she shops at a Fred Meyer store in Kent, then made some purchases at a Safeway store in Lacey, then sported some cool shades as she withdrew some money from America’s Credit Union, with what appears to be a friend in the striped-shirt sitting in the passenger seat as they cruised around in a LimePod car — definitely looks like she knows how to live her best life. The problem is — the life she’s leading isn’t her own — she stole it from a woman, a victim who’s fighting back and wants your help to stop this identity thief.
Diane Story has been working two jobs to save up enough money for her wedding, so when a woman started withdrawing cash from her account, she felt violated and frustrated. “I had to call my banks and find out this person was stealing all of my money and that she just took over my whole life, basically,” said Story.
It all started when Diane left her wallet in her car while she was working late on July 17th. “I, unfortunately, didn`t discover my wallet was missing until the next morning, about 8am in the morning, when one of my credit card companies called me and told me I was spending money that I didn`t have.”
By that time, Lacey Police Det. Jimmy Williams says the suspect had already used Diane's stolen cards to make 11 different purchases. “I actually gathered surveillance video from our local Safeway here, over in the Hawks Prairie area. It shows the suspect walking out of the store after she made a purchase. I also got other video. One was at a Fred Meyer in Kent. When we compared the video to the still pictures I`d gotten from Kent, I could tell the exact same outfit was worn. The only difference we could see is it looks like the person`s a little bit heavier, up in Kent, but I believe it only looks that way, because of the way the snapshots, or the pictures were taken. I believe they were shrunk before they were sent to us, so it looks like a different person, but actually, when you look at the clothing, the shoes, the hairstyle, it's the same person,” said Det. Williams.
And the thief was just getting started: A week after the car prowl, police say the suspect and another woman rented a LimePod vehicle from the Seattle area and drove it to Steilacoom, where she withdrew $2,600 in cash from Diane's account at two different bank branches -- using the account number and personal information she found in the stolen wallet. “It was really surprising, but that shows you sometimes leaving all your personal information in your purse, all together at one time, could be a mistake,” said Det. Williams.
At first, Diane's bank didn't believe there was fraud. They thought she took out the money. They got it sorted out eventually, but the damage was done. "We had to change our photographer plans, because we didn`t have any money for it, so it was really infuriating and I was really angry about it,” said Story.
She now carries her wallet everywhere she goes. She's learned a very painful lesson, but police say if it hadn't been her, it would have been another victim because this crook is a pro. "They know exactly what they're doing and that's why they're bouncing from city to city. They are going in, they're spending less than $500 at each place they go and then they don't stop. They don't stop until the credit card doesn't work anymore, so they know what they're doing. They're buying gift cards and small items, so later on they can use the money and spend the gift cards at another time,” said Det. Williams.
He’s following up with LimePod, because it's unusual for a suspect to rent a car to commit a crime -- usually, they steal them. He says, right now, the photos of the suspect are the best clues he has to get her identified.
“Really want to catch this person. These are the types of things we don't like here in Lacey. We have a hard-working person who has two jobs, not one, she has two jobs, works hard for her money and now somebody took her money from her. We don't like that here in Lacey. We want to make her be accountable for the things she's done,” said Det. Williams.
Diane says she won't feel safe until the suspect is stopped, because she still has her wallet, ID's and all of her information. “I just want this person to know that they almost ruined my entire life."
If you know who this woman is, or have any other info that can help Lacey Police track her down, Crime Stoppers of the South Sound will pay you a cash reward of up to $1,000. Submit an anonymous tip through the P3 Tips App on your cell phone, or call the hotline at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477).