Updated: Dec 28, 2017, KIRO News
This is a story that any credit card holder should pay attention to. A Florida couple with ties to the Pacific Northwest had cash and credit cards stolen from them and one simple security measure they took -- along with one good Bellevue bike cop -- made the difference in getting their valuables back, according to Bellevue police.
The police say one of their bike officers caught someone at the Safeway on Bellevue Way using the couple's stolen credit cards and virtual fraud alerts helped solve the crime.
Roy Rowland says he was at Bellevue Square Mall on Dec. 20 when his wallet was stolen while shopping. “Saw a police officer, looked at (my wife) Loree and said, 'Let's try to catch this guy,'" he said.
Rowland said it was a holiday heist that could have ruined their visit home to the Seattle area. Instead, losing his wallet, cash and cards shows how fraud alerts can come in handy.
Rowland’s bank let him know that soon after his cards were stolen, maybe within an hour or so, they were being used for transactions at the nearby Safeway.
“The officer responded so quickly and said, 'Let's do this,' and he took off on his bike and I ran after him ... He said it doesn't happen to too many people like this," Rowland said.
Bellevue police spokesperson Seth Tyler acknowledged that while the officer’s actions were timely and effective, generally investigating the fraud alerts can often lead to a process where officers have to investigate identity theft or track down the culprits, who often are long gone after making illegal purchases.
That was not the case Dec. 20 because the bicycle officer was well-positioned to respond. “One of the reasons we have officers on bikes specifically in our downtown region is A) they're more approachable," Tyler said.
Police said the victims flagged down the bicycle officers in the area near the Bellevue Square Mall. Without being burdened with a car or motor vehicle, Tyler said, Officer Amir Mousavi quickly navigated holiday and afternoon traffic in downtown Bellevue to get to the nearby Safeway within minutes.
“They can get through traffic. They can ride on the sidewalk," Tyler said. "We're talking about the week before Christmas right outside the downtown shopping centers.”
Bellevue police said Mousavi confronted the suspect in the Safeway while he allegedly used the stolen credit cards to purchase more than $400 in gift cards. Tyler also said the suspect had other warrants for arrest. Loree and Roy Rowland said that in a certain sense they are glad the crime happened to them instead of people with greater need. Loree Rowland also appreciated the police work.
"All day we kept saying thank you to all the cops and police officers who we saw on the street for all their service that they do," she said.
Bellevue police said the suspect was arrested in the Safeway.