A spate of purse thefts had been reported at the restaurant, located at the Capital Mall, over the past several months, according to police. Victims told police their stolen credit cards were later used in Thurston and Pierce counties.
Surveillance video taken inside the Chuck E. Cheese's showed a man thought to be in his 40s directing two young children to steal unattended bags and bring them to him in the bathroom.
On Wednesday afternoon, officers were called to the restaurant after a worker spotted the man from the surveillance video with three children, all under the age of 10. The man and his children were already gone by the time police arrived, but employees saw him leave and gave police a description of his car.
An officer soon spotted and stopped the car, which was driven by 34-year-old Charles W. Elias. With Elias in the car were an adult woman and three children, ages 7-, 8-, and 10-years old.
Elias was arrested for suspicion of driving on a suspended license and an outstanding felony warrant. Detectives now believe Elias directed the children to steal purses and bags on 15-20 occasions over the past few months.
Elias was booked into Thurston County Jail for forgery and the outstanding warrant. Police have not said how Elias is related to the children.