Police: Thief with swollen hands returns to plague neighborhood

SEATTLE -- After two years of peace, businesses in the Roosevelt neighborhood of Seattle are once again being warned to beware the man with the swollen hands.

According to the Seattle Police Department's report for a July 26 incident, a shoplifter with large, swollen hands plagued Roosevelt businesses two years ago, stealing items then returning them without a receipt while claiming his wife was having a medical emergency.

The man hadn't been seen or heard from for two years; that is until reappearing three weeks ago up to his old tricks. According to the report, the man came into an unnamed business in the 1000 block of Northeast 65th Street and returned an item without a receipt for $60. He reportedly told an employee his wife was ill and waiting nearby.

The employee later told the business' owner about the incident, including that the man had large, swollen hands, and she immediately realized the chronic shoplifter from two years ago had returned to the area.

On July 26, another employee was helping a customer at the business when the man came in and went to the employees-only office area, according to the report. The employee followed the man, who said he was looking for a Band-Aid.

The employee escorted the man out of the office and gave him a Band-Aid only to notice his swollen hands. The employee called 911, and the man ran off.

According to the report, surveillance video from the incident shows the man stealing a book from the business' lobby and looking through empty money envelopes in the office before being confronted by the employee.

Officers spoke to an employee at the nearby East West Bookshop who told them the man, who had also victimized their business two years ago, returned two weeks earlier and tried to get into their office. He fled when confronted by a manager.

Officers have warned businesses to call 911 if they see the man with the swollen hands.