TACOMA. -- Crooks who have masqueraded as police officers and kidnapped and robbed fast-food restaurant managers in the past month struck again Sunday, but this time, police say they've elevated their crimes to rape.
A Lakewood Wendy's Restaurant employee was on her way home from work around 2:20 a.m. Sunday when she was pulled over by a vehicle with red-and-blue flashing lights, said Lauren Wallin with the Pierce County Sheriff's Office's CrimeStoppers program.
Two armed robbers handcuffed her boyfriend and placed him in the trunk of his car, then demanded her keys to the restaurant.
The woman didn't have keys to the restaurant, and after realizing this, the robbers took the victim into a fenced, wooded area in the 1900 block of East 56th Street in Tacoma and raped her, Wallin said.
The rape victim, whom KOMO News has chosen not to identify, said the thieves then "told me if I say anything, they are going to hurt me and my family."
"And that's scary. They know where I work, they know where I live," she said. "Just scared to know that there are people like this out there. I didn't do anything. I don't even know who they are."
The victim said she doesn't understand why the thieves followed her instead of robbing her at work.
"Why would they do that? Why would they go that far? If they really needed money, they could have gotten me right then and there," she said.
But that's not the way these thieves work, according to investigators. Sunday's incident was the fourth time the robbers have struck in a similar manner in the past month.
In all incidents, restaurant managers in Pierce County were pulled over by a vehicle with red-and-blue flashing lights shortly after closing and leaving their restaurant. Two unidentified suspects wearing bandannas over their faces then approached the victims' vehicle, flashed guns and handcuffed the victim.
In the previous three incidents, one of the robbers drove the victim back to the restaurant and forced the victim, at gunpoint, to unlock the doors, open the safe and hand over the cash.
Another robber then picked up the first suspect in a getaway car, detectives believe.
The previous three kidnapping/robberies occurred:
* 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, Burger King on Mountain Highway in Graham.
* 3:15 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23, Wendy's on Hosmer Street in Tacoma (attempted robbery)
* 12:40 a.m. Monday, Oct. 5, McDonald's on Steilacoom Boulevard in Lakewood
"The robberies are bad enough. It's scary for everyone involved fortunately they haven't turned deadly," said Tacoma Police Det. Mark Fulghum.
The men have used vehicles described as a dark, newer SUV and an older black Honda with tinted windows, with red-and-blue lights on the dashboard.
During the robberies, the pair have been wearing dark hooded sweatshirts, dark hats, bandannas and gloves, and have been armed with handguns.
The kidnappings and robberies are being investigated by the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, Lakewood Police and Tacoma Police.
A reward of $1,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and charges filed for the robbers in this case. To contact police, call 253- 591-5959. All callers will remain anonymous.