He locked himself in a gas station bathroom as deputies were closing in

A thief who stole thousands of dollars in scrap metal locked himself in a gas station bathroom to hide from Pierce County sheriff’s deputies who were searching the area.

Deputies were briefed Tuesday after multiple burglaries that had taken place recently at a metal salvage business on Portland Avenue East in Tacoma.

About 4:15 a.m., they were called to the property for a burglary in progress.

Deputies quickly set up a containment area and brought in a K-9 to search for the burglar. One deputy noticed a suspicious man walking near the business and watched as he kept looking back at the deputy.

After a witness described a man matching the description of the suspicious man spotted moments earlier, a deputy went to a nearby gas station to ask the clerk if he’d seen the man.

The clerk pointed to the restroom, where the man had apparently locked himself inside.

“The suspect said he was just walking in the area and denied being involved in the burglary,” according to the Sheriff’s Department.

But deputies found a roll of electrical tape and a black fleece face mask inside the restroom’s garbage can.

Surveillance footage from the metal salvage business showed a thief matching the man’s description and clothing jump over a fence and walk around the property. A pile of metal, allegedly gathered with the intent to steal, was found near the fence.

The 47-year-old was arrested on suspicion of second-degree burglary.

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653