Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma Police.
June 21: The police report called it a stuffed lion head. It was more than that: a head with a rug attached. It was heavy.
It came from a business in the 1100 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The break-in prompted a dispatch call reporting a burglary, shortly before 3 a.m.
The caller said the suspect was wearing a cap with ear flaps, a dark coat, blue jeans and white tennis shoes. He was carrying something fuzzy that looked like the head of a bear.
An officer spotted the suspect walking on South 11th Street. At first glance, the officer thought the man was carrying a furry blanket. The officer told him to drop it and caught a closer look.
“I noticed it was a stuffed lion head,” the report states.
The man was 48, 6-foot-2, about 240 pounds. He wore gloves. A screwdriver, a prying tool and a flashlight stuck out of his pocket. He was panting and sweating.
The officer asked why the man was carrying a lion head. The man said he had traded some crack cocaine for it with a friend named Tennessee.
Did the man know where the lion came from?
“Naw, I ain’t asking questions,” the man said.
What about the burglary tools – the screwdriver and the flashlight? Where did those come from?
“I found them,” the man said.
What about the ear flap cap and the gloves? Why was the man so sweaty?
“I’m tired,” he said.
A second officer confirmed the description from the burglary call. The man had a glass pipe in his pocket. On the way to the Pierce County Jail, the man stuck to his story, saying he’d traded drugs for the lion head.
The officer booked him into the jail on suspicion of burglary and possession of drug paraphernalia.
June 19: It’s a clean scheme – sell somebody an iPad, take the money, offer to buy it back later for more money, then steal it at gunpoint.
A Tacoma man running that game landed in jail after one too many attempts at the same location.
Police learned of the first incident June 17. A 15-year-old Puyallup youth was trying to sell an iPad on Craigslist. An interested customer called and asked to meet at the Krispy Kreme parking lot near Tacoma Mall.
The boy and his father drove to the spot. The customer was a big man driving a 2011 Dodge Dakota pickup. The boy got out to show the customer the iPad. The father casually took down the truck’s license plate, just in case.
The boy showed the iPad to the customer, who looked at it and asked one question.
“Is this new?”
Before the boy could answer, the truck drove away. The father called police and gave them the license plate number.
The next call came June 19, but the incident was three days old. The victim, a 17-year-old from Tacoma, told police he’d answered a Craigslist ad offering an iPad for sale. The seller suggested meeting at the Krispy Kreme parking lot.
The youth met the seller at the spot. The seller was tall, about 6-foot-8, 330 pounds. He drove a gray Dodge Dakota pickup.
The youth bought the iPad for $500 in cash. The next day, he got a call from the seller, who said his uncle wanted the iPad back. The man offered to buy it back for $600. The youth agreed. The meeting spot was the same: the Krispy Kreme parking lot.
The youth arrived and waited. The Dodge Dakota drove up. The youth brought the iPad and waited for the money. Instead, the driver pulled a gun and told him to hand over the iPad. The youth did. The pickup drove away.
On June 19, the youth caught a lucky break. One of his friends was looking for an iPad and posted an ad on Craigslist. The ad got a bite; the caller’s phone number was the same as that of the man who liked to meet in the Krispy Kreme parking lot.
The two friends set a trap: one more meeting at the parking lot. Then they called police.
Officers asked the youth why he hadn’t called earlier.
“I don’t know, but this has been happening to all my friends too,” the youth said.
Officers said they would confront the seller.
“They’ve got guns, guys; please be careful,” the youth said.
By now, the officers recognized the pattern. They’d traced the license plate from the earlier incident to a Tacoma man. Reaching the parking lot, they spotted the truck and closed in.
Two men were inside. The driver was tall – a 24-year-old with a minor record of police contacts. Officers spotted two iPads in the truck.
The driver said he’d bought one of the iPads from a friend. The other belonged to the passenger, he said. The passenger said he knew nothing about it. He said he didn’t know why they came to the parking lot, except that the driver wanted to smoke some of his medical marijuana.
One iPad matched a report tied to an earlier theft in Kent. The other didn’t match any known reports. Neither matched the one taken from the Tacoma youth or the younger Puyallup boy.
The driver denied stealing or selling anything. So did the passenger.
The Tacoma youth identified the driver as the man who pointed a gun at him. He couldn’t identify the passenger. Officers released the passenger. They booked the driver into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of possession of stolen property.