- Thursday February 24th, 2011 :: 11:43 a.m. EST
Montgomery and Fairfax Officers Work Together to Arrest Serial Pickpocket Suspects
Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Investigative Sections have been investigating a series of “Distraction Thefts” that began occurring in August of 2009 throughout Montgomery County. The investigation was quickly joined by Fairfax County Police detectives after they experienced similar thefts in their county. On February 16, 2011, the two suspects now known to be responsible for thefts not only in Montgomery and Fairfax counties, but also in Annapolis, Greenbelt City, Anne Arundel, Howard, and Arlington counties, were arrested in Fairfax County.
Jonathan Sylvester Washington, age 50, from the 6600 block of Belcrest Road in Hyattsville, and Tamara Hope Claiborne (AKA Tamara Frazier), age 40, from the 4100 block of 14th Street, N.W. in Washington, D.C., were taken into custody and charged by Fairfax County officers. They are currently being held there without bond. At this stage of the investigation, additional charges are pending by Montgomery County, Annapolis City and Greenbelt City Police.
Beginning in the summer of 2009 throughout the metropolitan area, elderly female shoppers were being targeted by then two unknown suspects. Their scheme was to approach an elderly female shopper and engage her in conversation. The white female suspect might request assistance in reading a product label for the purpose of avoiding potential food allergens. During the distraction, a black male suspect would take the victim’s wallet from her purse left in an unattended shopping cart. The theft often occurred without the immediate knowledge of the victim. This same type of distraction theft went on in at least seven counties. After stealing from the elderly victims, the suspects would then use stolen credit cards to purchase thousands of dollars worth of gift cards from a variety of retail outlets to include: Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Kohl’s stores.
Between August of 2009 and February of 2011, the suspects were linked to an estimated 50 incidents resulting in the fraudulent conversion of funds estimated to be in excess of $100,000. During this lengthy investigation, detectives were eventually able to identify the suspects, but their locations remained unknown.
On February 16, 2011, Montgomery County detectives got a break in the case when they observed Washington driving in Hyattsville. The vehicle entered Virginia, where Fairfax and Arlington County police conducted surveillance on it. In the 6100 block of Arlington Boulevard in Fairfax County, Claiborne and Washington were arrested by Fairfax County police with the assistance of Arlington County police after the suspects stole a wallet and attempted to purchase thousands of dollars worth of gift cards.
A search warrant was executed by members of the Montgomery County 1st District Special Assignment Team and 1st District Investigative Section, Fairfax County, and Prince George’s County Police at Washington’s Hyattsville residence. Numerous pieces of evidence were recovered at the residence. Montgomery County’s charges will be served after the completion of the cases in Virginia.
Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said, “These two thieves caused a great deal of trouble and grief for dozens of innocent victims. I am so proud of the investigative work done on these cases. Our detectives never stopped working on this.”
Montgomery County Police Department
2350 Research Blvd.
Rockville, MD 20850