Police Beat: ‘Missouri shopping’ seems a lot like shoplifting

Staff writerApril 12, 2014 

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

April 8: When you’re carrying a load of stolen merchandise and a list headed, “Stores to hit,” it’s a mistake to claim that’s just how people talk in Missouri – especially if you’re not from Missouri.

The police officer answered a dispatch call from the JC Penney store at the Tacoma Mall. He found a 27-year-old woman, handcuffed and sitting in a chair, and a loss-prevention officer who explained the situation.

The woman had walked into the store, gathered merchandise and tried to walk out the door. The loss prevention officer followed her. She tried to run at first, then gave up. She had no identification.

The woman gave the police officer a name, a birth date and a Missouri address. She said she was visiting her aunt in Washington. The officer thought the story sounded fishy, but the woman stuck to it.

The woman carried clothing and shoes from JC Penney and jewelry from Macy’s. The police officer asked the loss prevention officer about the total value of the stolen items. The woman started chirping.

“So I’m getting stuck with the whole amount?” she asked. “I told you I didn’t steal all of that, my cousin stole part of it and stuck it in my purse.”

What was her cousin’s name? The woman wouldn’t say. She said the officer didn’t care about her, or her little girl.

Where was the little girl?

“She’s in the car with my other cousin,” the woman said.

The cousin was supposed to be outside, waiting with the little girl in a green Jeep.

The officer noticed a small notebook in the woman’s belongings. One sheet was headed, “Stores to hit.” The list included Kmart, Famous Footwear, Sears, Lowe’s, Old Navy, Macy’s and Goodwill.

What was the list for?

“That’s how we talk in Missouri,” the woman said. “It doesn’t mean what you think, it means I need to go there.”

The officer put the woman in a patrol car. He looked for the cousin in the green Jeep and saw no one. He drove to the Pierce County Jail.

Staffers recognized the woman immediately. She wasn’t from Missouri. She had a list of police contacts, charges and convictions in Pierce County dating to 2008, including an active arrest warrant tied to a charge of attempted second-degree robbery.

She was also hiding three rings in her mouth: one with blue stones, one with a red stone and one with a white stone.

The officer booked her on suspicion of organized retail theft and the prior arrest warrant.

April 6: First rule of karaoke: Do not sing duets with a woman who is not your wife.

The singer was 24 and hammered. The other guy was 28 and calm. They were caught between angry women.

Two officers answered the dispatch call at 12:15 a.m. and drove to a bar in the 5900 block of North 26th Street. They found a knot of people arguing in the parking lot.

The singer, swaying, said he bought drinks for several women he’d just met, and started singing a song with one of them. Another woman started yelling at the female singer, ripping her for flirting with a married man. That started an argument; the singer said the next thing he knew, he was on the floor, taking punches from the other guy.

The other guy was quiet and sober. He said he was defending his female friends from the drunken singer.

Inside, a bouncer and another bar worker gave their version of the story. They saw the singer and the other guy come in with a group of women, and they heard a loud argument. They saw the 28-year-old rush toward the singer and punch him. The two men wrestled. The bouncer and the worker separated them, and escorted everybody outside.

The singer and the defender shook hands in the parking lot, and walked back toward the group of women, who started arguing again. The singer overheated again. The defender punched him again. One group of women fled in a white sedan.

The bouncer and the bar worker just wanted everyone gone. Officers told the parties to clear out. They didn’t arrest anyone. They cited the 28-year-old for a possible charge of simple assault, with a referral to the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.

April 5: The transient wanted mental help and couldn’t get it, so he forced his own arrest.

He was 39, drifting around the Pierce Transit bus station at 900 Commerce St. when he saw the police car and walked over.

“Can I talk to you?” he asked the officer. “I’m in the middle of a breakdown.”

The officer asked how he could help.

“Can you help me get into the Recovery Response Center?” the man asked. “I’m schizophrenic, and I’m really scared right now. I really need to talk to someone.”

The officer asked for the man’s name. The man gave it. The officer called the RRC, a privately operated crisis mental-health center in Fife, operated under a contract with the state.

While the officer was on the phone, the man walked away. A records check revealed he was banned from Pierce Transit property because of a previous incident. The officer found him at a nearby coffee shop.

The man said he was scared. He demanded to be taken to jail. The officer put him in the patrol car.

“Just take me away from here,” the man said. “I’m scared – take me to jail now.”

The officer took the man to the Fife City Jail and booked him on suspicion of second-degree trespassing.

At the jail, the man turned to the officer.

“Thanks for helping me,” he said. “Recovery Response won’t keep me, anyway.”

The officer told jail staffers the man wanted mental help. Staffers said the man would be transferred to the SCORE jail in Des Moines, where mental-health treatment was available.

Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486

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