Police Beat: Sandwich bandit serves up baloney

Staff writerNovember 30, 2013 

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police.

Nov. 23: The sandwich bandit burned his breakfast and went to jail hungry.

He was 25, clad in a brown knit cap, jeans and a blue coat. At 6:30 a.m., he sat on a bench at the bus stop in the 1900 block of Pacific Avenue and counted dollar bills that spilled from his coat pocket.

A surveillance camera watched. So did two police officers, alerted by a bus driver and a witness who had seen the man step out of a nearby sub shop carrying bags of swag and a computer monitor.

The shop was closed. The witness, watching the man go in and out, asked what was going on. The man said he was an employee, cleaning up after a long shift. The bandit asked if the witness had ever tried the shop’s breakfast sandwich. The witness, uneasy, boarded the bus.

Officers approached the bandit and told him to get on the ground. The man didn’t fight the cuffs. He stuffed a few bills in his pocket and went down.

The sub shop was ransacked, the door forced open. The cash register, smashed, was on the floor. On a counter lay a burnt sandwich.

The bandit gave officers a false name. He said he couldn’t remember his birthday because he didn’t celebrate it. Later, he provided his real name and said he was worried about his past arrest warrants.

He said he’d been walking down the sidewalk, hankering for breakfast. He stopped at the shop and tried the door. It was open, he said — but he noticed the lights were off and no one was inside.

He said he “did some stupid stuff — it looks real bad.” He said he decided to make himself a sandwich, but burned it in the oven.

He said he accidentally tripped over some power cords and knocked the cash register off the counter. It cracked open, and bills fell out, along with rolls of coins. He said he got himself a soda, left with the money and started waiting for the bus.

A few minutes later, he changed the story. He’d gone into the shop to make himself a sandwich, he said, but he hadn’t taken anything. He left the store and found the bag of money sitting on the bench. He didn’t know how it got there.

One bag with the shop’s label held bills and rolled coins. Two more, stacked by a fire hydrant, contained seven small cartons of milk, seven sodas and juices, two bags of chips and four brownies.

Officers booked the man into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of burglary.

Nov. 23: Sometimes it pays to yell out the window. It worked for the Tacoma woman who spotted four youths trying to break into her van shortly after 3 a.m.

She was 57. Up late watching TV, she noticed a black Honda Civic pull into the parking lot at her apartment complex. The young men got out. They tested the doors on parked cars, and tried the door on the woman’s van. It opened.

The woman rose, slid her window open and shouted at the youths. They ran. She called police.

Three officers drove to the complex in the 9300 block of South Steele Street. They got lucky: The Civic pulled out of the driveway just as they arrived. They trailed it to a convenience store parking lot two blocks away and stopped it.

Frisking and cuffs, then separation and questions: The driver, 17, was the youngest. One of the passengers, 19, was the oldest. He lived in the Steele Street complex.

The driver said he didn’t know what was going on. He said they came to see their friend, and this woman started yelling at them.

Why had he parked so far from his friend’s unit? Speed bumps were too big, the driver said — bad for his car. He didn’t know why the woman started yelling. He didn’t remember much else.

Another passenger, 18, said they were looking for their friend’s van. Did his friends try to break into cars? He didn’t know. He didn’t remember. He was walking ahead of them and didn’t see.

Officers brought the woman to see the youths. She identified them, including the one who opened the door of her van. Officers booked the quartet on suspicion of vehicle prowling: two into Remann Hall, the other two into the Fife City Jail.

Nov. 23: The 1986 Buick Regal passed the Frisko Freeze on Division Avenue and hung a shaky left at North K Street. An officer watched and followed. It was 4:05 a.m.

The Buick weaved right and left, stopped in the middle of an intersection, revved, jumped and hit 50 miles per hour, barely missing parked cars. The officer flicked on the emergency lights.

The Buick halted midintersection at North K and 11th Streets. The officer saw the two passengers hunch forward; a standard stuff-it-under move. The driver tried to step out of the car. The officer told him to stay put and called for backup.

The driver was 23. The passenger was 27. Both were cuffed. The driver said he’d done nothing wrong.

The officer searched the car and found a bottle of vodka in the back seat, about 75 percent full. The driver said he’d had “a little bit” and was headed home, a block away.

The officer told the driver he was being cited for reckless driving. The driver complained, then dissolved in profanity when a tow truck arrived to impound the Buick.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486

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