Car prowlers targeting wedding venues in Snohomish

Somewhere between the champagne toast and the bouquet toss, thieves are stealing from wedding guests in Snohomish.

It's a crime that just makes you cringe: somewhere between the champagne toast and the bouquet toss, thieves are stealing from wedding guests in Snohomish.

The latest incident happened on October 8, when three cars got broken into during a reception at Dairyland.  Just one week prior, another car was hit during another reception at that same location.

"It's disgusting, because this is a day that everyone is celebrating.  They're happy.  The last thing you want to be doing is worrying about what's in your car and if someone is prowling it," said Sarah Swanson.

Swanson owns a wedding planning business called Eventful Moments, and was the wedding planner on duty during that October 8 wedding.  She was also a theft victim.

"Both of my windows were broke," she said.  "Pretty much everything of value in my car they took off with," she said.

For Swanson and several wedding guests, that included items like purses and wallets.

Marvin Thomas, who owns nearby Thomas Family Farms' wedding venue, said he can understand why wedding guests might let their guards down and leave valuables in their cars during a wedding reception.

"You feel you should be pretty secure going to a wedding, you know at least one side of the family very well, and the other side you hope to know pretty well in the future," he said.  "And it should be safe."

Thomas said he had a car break-in at his venue last year, and stepped up security shortly after that incident.  He now has 30 surveillance cameras on the property.  He also installed gates at the entrance to his parking lot, and keeps the entrance staffed with someone monitoring everyone that comes and goes during wedding receptions.

"Since we have done that, we've had zero car break-ins," he said.  

So when he heard about the recent thefts at Dairyland, he was crushed.  He said the wedding venues in the Snohomish Valley are a tight knit group that try to look out for each other and work together to prevent incidents like this from happening.

Dairyland owner Amee Quiriconi said she sent out an alert to all of the local event venues immediately after the October 8 thefts.

She said it's a crime they take personally, and Dairyland is already making changes, such as parking lot patrols during every event.

"It's sad, to target something that's supposed to be a really happy, uplifting day," said Swanson.  "And when one person is affected in this community, we're all affected."

The community got a break in the case when Snohomish County detectives were able to obtain surveillance images of three suspects using Swanson's stolen credit card at a local store.

According to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, one of Swanson's credit cards was used six times at four different stores.  Swanson says the thieves quickly racked up several thousand dollars in charges.

She's now hoping someone recognizes the people in the surveillance image.  A car believed to belong to the suspects was also caught on camera.

If you have any information about who may be behind the wedding car prowls, call the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office anonymous tipline at 425-388-3845.

Copyright 2016 KING


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