A ring of criminal theft and robberies across the country included Bozeman and now one of the suspects has made her initial appearance in court.
Pilar Monserrat, 34, is behind bars facing felony theft charges after allegedly stealing jewelry from a Bozeman store with a group of people.
The group is also accused of stealing sport watches from the Bozeman REI.
In total, court documents say the woman and her accomplices stole more than $11,000 worth of merchandise in Bozeman.
But investigators say the group may also be responsible for a chain of thefts at REI stores in Medford and Eugene Ore., Kennewick, Wash., Missoula, and Lakewood Colo. Those thefts could value over $60,000.
According to charging documents, on Tuesday Jan. 14, 2020, Alara Jewelry reported that items were stolen. Video surveillance from the store showed two women and two men enter the store on West Main St. at approximately 3:14 p.m. The younger man is observed pulling tools out of his jacket pocket while standing in front of a display case, but puts the tools away when an employee approaches. A short time after the man approached another case, took his tools out and opened the lock on the case. He then reportedly concealed items and left the store at approximately 3:18 pm without paying for any of the items.
A Bozeman Police detective investigating the case, observed in the video that while the man was taking the items, the three other people were distracting employees or being a lookout for the man. Video shows all four exit the store and walk south on So. Willson Ave.
The owner of the store provided a list of items reported as stolen, including 11 rings with a total value of $7,040.
On Wednesday, Jan. 15, Bozeman Police responded to a report of theft at REI Bozeman. Surveillance video was provided to a detective which showed 4 people (2 men and 2 women) walking near the Garmin display. The detective observed the four appeared to be the same as those at were in the Alara Jewelry video.
In this case, the younger man was observed on video messing with the lock of the display and removing items. He would then drop the items off behind a backpack display where an older woman retrieved them, hid them and walked out of the store.
A detailed list of missing items showed 6 Garmin watches with a total value of $4,400.
On Jan. 22, 2020, investigators became aware of an arrest in Bloomington, Minn. after a group of 4 suspects, matching the Bozeman description, were involved with theft at the Bloomington REI. When reviewing the Bloomington Police Department case, the same four suspects were caught on video repeating the theft that took place in the Bozeman REI. Two the younger suspects were positively identified as suspects in the Bozeman REI and Alara Jewelry theft cases.
The man was identified as Jessi Diaz, 38, (AKA Freddi Gonzales-Valentin) and the woman was identified as Monserrat. The other two suspects remain unidentified.
The Bozeman detective was able to obtain reports that the same group stole items from the REI stores in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Colorado.The total value of goods stolen from those locations is excess of $60,000. Law enforcement believe that additional thefts will come to light after further investigation.
Monserrat faces up to $10,000 in fines and 10 years in prison for each of the two counts. In Gallatin County Justice Court, prosecutors say she has a criminal history out of Texas and Minnesota for robbery and theft and is wanted in other states.
Monserrat’s bail is set at $250,000 and she was ordered not to leave the state without the court’s permission. Her next court appearance is set for Mar. 6.
Two of the four suspects, including Monserrat, were arrested in Minnesota on Jan. 22, 2020 and Monserrat was extradited to Montana.
The other suspect remains in custody in Minnesota at this time and Bozeman detectives say the other two suspects are still outstanding.
Additional reporting by Ken Spencer - MTN News