Purse snatchers target Costco, Walmart, grocery stores in Tacoma, King County, police say

A surge in purse snatchings has police warning shoppers in Pierce and King counties to be extra careful in store parking lots.

Since the start of the year, authorities say more than 60 bags have been stolen outside stores like Costco, Walmart and grocery stores around Puget Sound.

The count of purses stolen by force in Tacoma parking lots stood at 19 as of late April.

“It’s an uptick,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said. “It’s not always the same people stealing bags. Be aware of your surroundings.”

Witnesses reported seeing teenagers and people in their early 20s snatch bags and quickly flee in stolen cars.

No one has been seriously injured, but at least a few victims suffered broken bones and bruises.

“We’ve even had it where a suspect has gotten into somebody’s car while they’re sitting in there and grabbed it off their shoulder and ran,” King County sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Abbott told KIRO-7.

Only one suspect has been arrested.

Police advise shoppers not to be distracted in store parking lots and lock their doors while loading groceries.