4/19/2014

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Dozens of families reunited with stolen property

Dozens of families reunited with stolen property
SAMMAMISH, Wash. - At least 80 families are being reunited with stolen property they thought was lost forever.

When King County detectives arrested a couple last month, they say they discovered a storage unit filled with personal items taken from all over the Pacific Northwest.

Karen and Josh are two burglary victims invited by police to shift through pile after pile of recovered goods inside Sammamish City Hall.

"My grandmother's pearls were taken," Karen says of an irreplaceable item taken by thieves.

From jewelry, purses, and credit cards, to a few autographed baseballs and war medals, there are dozens of families who hope to be reunited with precious items stolen from them.

Detective Larry Zydek says it was a unique guitar that cracked the case last November after a woman pawned it in Tacoma.

"We looked around a little bit for her," Detective Zydek says. "Couldn't find her at the time."

In June, the woman resurfaced in Gig Harbor where she pawned jewelry, so Detective Zydek dug deeper and found a photo of her boyfriend that looked similar to surveillance video of a suspect in Bellevue.

"So we're comparing these two photos, and we're saying, 'Boy, that's him'," Detective Zydek says.

When police arrested the woman's boyfriend, Steven Tipton, they found a storage unit in Puyallup rented by Tipton's girlfriend. The unit was filled to the brim with loot that is now laid out in Sammamish City Hall.

Last week, detectives called Josh and Karen to tell them they found some of their things. They recovered the couple's safe that was full of birth certificates and passports, along with other personal items like Karen's grandmother's pearls.

"I'm kind of happy to get our identity back," Karen says. "Happy to get some emotional stuff back."
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