Thieves targeting yoga studios in DC

- Thieves pretending to be perspective yoga students are targeting D.C.-area yoga studios and stealing customer's wallets and purses. D.C. police are hoping new surveillance video will help them catch the suspects.

Detectives are trying to figure out if the crimes are linked or if yoga studios are just a hot target right now.

Yoga Heights on Georgia Avenue in Northwest D.C. has been hit three times since October.

The latest theft happened on Sunday and was caught on camera. Three women walked inside the studio and talked with the employee at the front desk. Two of the women distracted the worker while the other suspect walked over to the cubbies, grabbed items and tossed them in her bag. The women were so smooth that the yoga studio employee did not notice the theft was happening.

At one point, two of the women asked to use the restroom. They made their way into a staff closet and stole an employee's purse as well.

The owner of Yoga Heights said like most yoga studios, the cubbies are open and they encourage people not to leave valuables there.

The first time Yoga Heights was hit, it was done by two men while the second time was a woman by herself.

While police are trying to figure out what they are dealing with, owner Jess Pierno said she is not the only one being targeted in the city.

“Almost every time it happened, somebody posts on the Facebook group of studio owners and we are all kind of aware that this is going on,” Pierno said. “It's hard to say if it's a large organized group or not, but they very clearly all know how a yoga studio works. So they come in and they are able to ask all the right questions. This last time, they signed up as a new student and asked about the class schedule.”

D.C. police also released video of two people targeting The Yoga Shala on 7th Street in Northwest D.C. on April 2. There are close-up images of one of the suspects.

In these theft cases, the thieves are getting away with cash, credit cards, cellphones and keys.

If you recognize any of them, police are asking you to contact them at 202-727-9099.

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