Police Beat: He's not a very good phone thief, and an even worse liar

Staff writerJanuary 25, 2014 

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

Jan. 20: The lie was ridiculous, but the man kept telling it.

He was 32, standing near the food court at Tacoma Mall, holding a smartphone that didn’t belong to him.

The 22-year-old woman who owned the phone told the man to give it back. She and her husband had stopped for a bite and gotten up to go shopping. She left the phone on the table, walked back and saw the man fiddling with it.

The man wouldn’t give the phone back. He said it was his. The woman pointed to the screen. It had her picture on it.

The man took the phone apart, removed the memory card, handed the phone back and started walking away. The woman trailed after, telling him to give it back.

“It’s not yours,” the man said. “I found it. It’s mine.”

The woman called 911 and followed the man into the parking lot. She couldn’t keep up with him. Officers arrived. She gave them a description.

Officers found him near the intersection of South 40th and Pine streets.

The man said he hadn’t done anything. He said he found a memory card at the mall and that a woman he didn’t know claimed it was hers.

Where did he find it?

On the ground, the man said.

The officer said the woman had called police and that another officer was talking to her.

The man changed his story. He said he found the phone on a chair in the mall.

Why take the memory card?

“Because I needed one.”

The man said he had no way of knowing the phone belonged to the woman. He admitted seeing her picture on the screen. He said he gave the phone back.

Where was the memory card?

In his own phone, the man said. He took the card out and gave it to the officer, who booked him into the Fife City Jail on suspicion of third-degree theft.

Jan. 20: The 44-year-old man was homeless and footsore. Shortly after 1 a.m., he stood in front of a bicycle shop in the 5800 block of South Sprague Court, staring at the storefront window.

The dispatch call reported a burglary in progress. Two officers drove to the bike shop. They saw the man standing next to the broken front window, trying to pull a bicycle through the hole.

The man saw the patrol car, stopped pulling and started walking. Officers corralled him and cuffed him.

The man said he was just walking by and noticed the broken window. The officer said the shop had a surveillance camera. The man changed his story. He said he broke the window and tried to pull the bike out.

“I’m sick of walking,” he said.

He couldn’t pull the bike out through the pieces of window frame. He tried, he said. It wouldn’t fit.

Officers booked him into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of second-degree burglary.

Jan. 18: Following the rules of the road is always smart — even smarter when driving a stolen car.

The 1988 Toyota Camry passed a patrol car in the 800 block of South Cushman Avenue and promptly broke at least two rules, crossing the path of oncoming traffic to park on the wrong side of the road, two feet from the curb.

An officer flicked the emergency lights and ran a check on the plate. A hit came back — the car had been reported stolen Dec. 28 in another part of Tacoma. It belonged to an 87-year-old woman. Her son had been driving it.

Two women sat in the Camry. The driver was 49, the passenger 18.

The driver protested. Several times, she said she didn’t know the car was stolen. A man she didn’t know gave her the key a week ago and said she could use the car, she said. She didn’t know the man’s name. She didn’t know how to reach him.

The passenger said the driver was a friend of her mother’s. She said the driver had been tooling around in the Camry for at least a week. She said she’d heard the driver say the car was stolen and that it started with a “giggler key.”

Why would she get into a car when she knew it was stolen?

“I needed a ride,” the passenger said.

Officers released the passenger. They booked the driver into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of possessing a stolen vehicle.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486

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