A couple months back, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg filed charges against two separate immigrant families he said were responsible for operating junkie-powered theft rings in supermarkets and stores in the southern part of the county. Combined, Satterberg alleged, these rings had stolen more than $6 million in goods from QFC, Safeway, Top Foods, and a range of others.
The larger of the rings, operated by Cambodians Sara Kang and Chanthou Rim, allegedly sold most of its booty--notably Oil of Olay skin cream--for shipment back to Cambodia. But according to prosecutors, it also sold a lot of stuff to Samway Oriental Market, a popular neighborhood grocery in White Center owned by fellow Cambodians Savoun and Sam Yim.
In the course of a months-long investigation, both undercover police officers and loss-prevention workers from Fred Meyer made several visits to Samway, buying items marked with ultraviolet pens showing their provenance.
On one visit in March of last year, Fred Meyer investigators went to Samway to look for fenced items. Instead, they watched as Kang and Rim showed up with boxes of soap and toothpaste, had a conversation with a clerk, and exited, leaving the goods behind.
Kang and Rim, each charged with seven counts of attempted trafficking in stolen products, three counts of solicitation to traffic in stolen products, and one count of conspiracy to commit organized retail theft in the second degree, are out on $50,000 bail each. They are next due in court August 11. Once their criminal cases are resolved, the pair, green-card holders both, can expect to be repatriated to Cambodia.
The Yims, despite their seeming involvement in the scheme, have not been charged, and have kept up appearances in the neighborhood. To wit, here's Sam Yim giving a few fruit baskets to the ladies of the White Center Community Development Agency in February of this year, in honor of the lunar new year.
Last year, the same month as the toothpaste-and-soap incident, the Yims' store got a nice writeup in The Seattle Times, which noted that "[a]t Samway, there is a just a bit of this and bit of that, requiring close examination to determine its provenance, its story."