Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma Police.
Dec. 14: The two Santas floated out of the apartment lobby like the down of a thistle.
One was 2 feet tall and stuffed. The other was bigger: 3 feet high and animatronic.
Workers at the complex in the 200 block of St. Helens Avenue noticed the missing Santas at 10 a.m. and called police.
The complex had surveillance cameras. The workers had already viewed the footage, and showed it to an officer. The video showed two men entering the lobby earlier that morning. It was hard to tell how they got in. They pushed buttons on the keypad lock; whether they guessed right or a tenant buzzed them in was difficult to determine.
Both men were about 5-foot-10 and looked to weigh about 220 pounds. One had a goatee and wore a plaid flannel shirt with a gray hood. The other wore a dark jacket with white lettering on the left sleeve. His hair was close-cropped.
The footage showed the men prowling around the lobby. Eventually, each grabbed a Santa. They walked down a flight of stairs and left through a side door on the lower level.
The men came back later that morning without the Santas. One of the apartment workers spotted them in an elevator and recognized them from the footage. She asked what they were doing.
The men said they were visiting a tenant named Melvin, but they didn’t know his last name or his apartment number. The worker told the men they’d been caught on video, stealing the Santas. The men said they didn’t know what she was talking about. They left in a hurry, climbing into a dark-blue SUV: a 1997 Mercury Mountaineer. The worker took down the plate number.
Relying on descriptions and other information, police identified the two men. One was 36, the other 41. One had an active arrest warrant. An officer spotted them the following day and booked the man with the warrant into the Pierce County Jail. The apartment worker identified both men as the thieves, but the missing Santas stayed missing; the case remains under investigation.
Dec. 16: The Tacoma woman cradled the dead puppy in her arms and cried. Her husband was furious.
Cause of death: antifreeze poisoning. The couple said their veterinarian confirmed the diagnosis. The puppy was the latest victim: their other two dogs had been poisoned in the same fashion over the past two weeks.
The dogs stayed in the back yard, with no access to antifreeze, the husband said. They couldn’t get into the garage, and he didn’t have any antifreeze there anyway.
The couple suspected their neighbor, who lived in the house next door in the 700 block of East 54th Street.
The neighbor, a 50-year-old man, had moved into the house in October. The woman remembered that. The neighbor yelled at her about the dogs, and threatened, with profane emphasis, to kill the animals if they barked at him again.
The husband said he’d spoken to the neighbor once, a few days back. The neighbor said he’d been throwing “sausages” over the fence to the dogs. Shortly after that conversation, the first dog had died.
An officer knocked on the neighbor’s door. No one answered, and the house was dark. The officer filed a report. The husband said he’d provide paperwork from the veterinarian.
Dec. 14: The Tacoma man heard a crash in the alley: the familiar clatter of toppling trash cans.
He walked outside, near his home in the 4100 block of Sixth Avenue, and saw a middle-aged woman in a wheelchair, tangled among the cans.
The woman said she needed help. The man said he could call 911. The woman said no, she didn’t need police or an ambulance — just a ride.
The man said he couldn’t give her a ride. Again, he offered to call 911.
The woman rose from the wheelchair and stood. She walked away, along the alley and out to the main road, leaving the chair behind. She walked with a slight limp. She flagged down a car, got in and rolled away.
The man, slightly perplexed, called police, who responded to the scene and examined the wheelchair. They wondered if the walking woman might be connected to a recent dispatch call. A nearby drugstore had reported attempted shoplifting by a woman in a wheelchair who fled in a hurry.
An area check found no sign of the woman. Officers placed the abandoned wheelchair into a property locker and filed a report.
Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486