Men charged with stealing $16,000 of liquor since privatization

SEATTLE -- According to the King County Prosecutor's Office, four young men wasted no time taking advantage of privatized liquor sales, stealing nearly $16,000 worth of hard alcohol starting the day after it became available in grocery stores.

The Prosecutor's Office has charged 21-year-old Charles Askew of Tacoma, 21-year-old Devonte Jack of Kent, 20-year-old Darren Dean of Renton and 22-year-old Blake Kirvin of Seattle with conspiracy to commit organized retail theft in connection with at least 16 cases of shoplifted liquor.

According to probable cause documents, a loss prevention manager at Albertsons has been collecting cases involving the four men, along with a fifth named Dirkston Gonzales, that occurred throughout King, Pierce and Snohomish counties since June 2012.

The first theft for $300 was reported June 2, 2012 at a Top Foods in Federal Way, only one day after private liquor sales started.

According to probable cause documents, Askew, Jack, Gonzales and Dean were arrested following their second theft of $1,010.66 worth of liquor from the same Top Foods June 3, 2012. Officers reportedly found 16 bottles of stolen liquor and two stolen guns in the Tahoe being driven by the men.

Surveillance footage showed all four men seemingly nonchalant about the theft and not caring if they got caught, according to the documents. And, Gonzalez reportedly admitted to stealing the liquor.

Only a month later, the men were back at it, stealing $454.89 worth of liquor from an Albertsons in Tacoma, according to the probable cause documents.

Eleven thefts followed over the next two-and-a-half months, with the men reportedly hitting Albertsons, Safeways and QFCs in Redmond, Maple Valley, Sammamish, Mercer Island, Woodinville, Duvall and Mountlake Terrace.

According to probable cause documents, the men would steal dozens of bottles of liquor at a time. The largest reported theft was worth $3,764.

On Sept. 22, 2012, officers stopped Kirvin, Jack and Gonzales on their way out of a Mill Creek Safeway. Kirvin and Jack had liquor bottles concealed on them and Gonzales had dropped a basket of unpaid-for alcohol near the store's door, according to probable cause documents.

The three men were arrested, and the Tahoe was again searched, reportedly revealing 74 bottles of liquor.

A final theft of $420.19 worth of liquor was reported at an Issaquah Safeway Oct. 19, 2012 involving Gonzales and two unidentified men.

All four men being charged with the liquor thefts have prior convictions.

Askew was previously convicted for criminal attempt and theft.

Jack has eight prior convictions for theft, vehicle prowl and obstructing a police officer.

Dean has prior convictions for carrying a concealed pistol, malicious mischief, criminal trespass and theft and has had five warrants issued for his arrest since 2012.

Kirvin has prior convictions for firearm possession, controlled substance violation and resisting arrest. He has had three warrants issued for his arrest since 2009.

The four men are scheduled to appear in court June 27.

Gonzales is already being charged for other crimes in Kitsap County. His alleged involvement in these liquor thefts was being rolled into that case.