Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.
Feb. 4: Despite 21st-century digital trappings, the con was old grift — take this phantom money and keep some for yourself.
The 32-year-old woman was selling her services as a babysitter. She registered her name and information on a website. In mid-January, she got an email with a job offer.
The note came from someone calling herself Megan. Megan said her family would be moving to Pierce County soon. More emails, text messages and arrangements followed.
On Jan. 30, the woman received an envelope with a cashier’s check inside for $2,280, and a set of instructions: Cash the check, keep $350 and send the rest to an address in New York City.
On Jan. 30, the woman received an envelope with a cashier’s check inside for $2,280 and a set of instructions: Cash the check, keep $350 and send the rest to an address in New York City.
The woman did it, keeping her share and sending the rest to New York.
The check was fraudulent. The woman didn’t realize it until her bank froze her account and tagged her with the charges.
The woman called the sheriff’s office. A deputy looked over the information and the addresses the woman had been given.
The envelope with the cashier’s check came from Megan, but the instructions ordered her to send the money to someone else with a different name. The address traced to a mail drop in New York. The deputy filed a report for information purposes.
Jan. 31: Ordered to shake hands at gunpoint, the Tacoma man, 38, refused and kept his hands in the air.
The 21-year-old man holding the 9-millimeter Beretta was displeased and waved the weapon around. Refusing to shake hands was a sign of aggression, he said.
The older man, hands held high, didn’t waver. This wasn’t aggression, he said.
The younger man, clad in a red and gray hoodie, eyed him and finally walked away.
The older man watched, waited and bent to pick up the fried chicken he’d just bought.
Police were already on the prowl, chasing an earlier robbery report involving the man with the gun. The man with the fried chicken watched the arrest unfold.
Ordered to shake hands at gunpoint, the Tacoma man, 38, refused and kept his hands in the air.
An officer spotted the gun-toting man in the 8200 block of Pacific Avenue, stepped out of his patrol car, drew his department-issued gun and ordered the man to get on the ground.
At first the man didn’t. The officer closed in slowly and took the man down. The man crouched on his hands and knees, but didn’t flatten out. He said he had a gun.
The officer stretched the man out and cuffed him. He found the Beretta in the man’s rear waistband. The magazine held three rounds.
By this time, other officers had arrived. The man with the fried chicken flagged them and told his story.
Escorted to a patrol car, the man with the gun said he understood his rights. Asked if he would answer questions, he said, “No.”
Officers booked him into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of unlawful displaying of a weapon and concealing a pistol without a permit.
Jan. 31: The man browsing the video game section wasn’t looking to buy.
The Tacoma officer, working off-duty security at the electronics store in the 2200 block of South 48th Street, watched the man’s movements on store surveillance video.
It was a series of squats and stands: squat, stand, look around, squat. On the second squat, the man grabbed an Xbox game controller, opened the box, stuffed the item in his pants and wrapped his jacket around the bulge.
After watching another round of squats and stands, the officer had seen enough and walked toward the games section.
On the second squat, the man grabbed an Xbox game controller, opened the box, stuffed the item in his pants and wrapped his jacket around the bulge.
The man noticed and started walking away. The officer told him to stop. The man stopped.
What was he doing?
Just looking around, the man said.
Did he see anything he liked?
Just looking, the man said again.
The officer turned the man around, took hold of his hands and cuffed him. The man had been caught on tape, the officer said.
The frisk revealed three game controllers, two boxes of Apple computer gear and a pocket knife.
Was the man using the knife to cut open the controller boxes?
No, the man said. The boxes opened without a knife.
Had the man noticed the officer, standing in full uniform at the front of the store? Yes, the man said.
So why take the risk?
The man said he thought the officer was just shopping.
Did the man intend to steal when he entered the store?
No, the man said — he was just looking around.
So he came in to look around and decided stealing was a good idea?
“No, it was dumb,” the man said.
The officer cited the man for misdemeanor shoplifting and handed him a notice with a court date. He added that the man was banned from the store. The man said he understood.