Knife-wielding shoplifter asked police how it could have been a robbery, charges say

A man accused of trying to steal tools from a Tacoma hardware store and swinging a knife inches from the face of a security officer who tried to stop him has been charged with robbery.

And as the 28-year-old was arrested Friday, he expressed confusion at being suspected of that crime.

“But why robbery if they got their stuff back?” he asked police, according to charging papers.

Those papers give this account of what happened:

The man grabbed a roughly $400 tool kit at the store in the 7000 block of Tacoma Mall Boulevard and took it to the gardening section.

There he used a tool to tamper with the security sensor, then put the tool kit in a shopping cart and wheeled it out of the store.

He showed an employee an unrelated receipt on his way out but that didn’t fool the nearby security officer, who had been watching.

The officer confronted the thief in the parking lot, which is when the thief turned into a robber, according to charging papers.

The man shoved the security officer and pulled a folding knife with a 3-inch blade when a struggle ensued.

He swung it several times, just inches from the security officer’s face and then fled — apparently without the merchandise.

Police later found the suspect’s truck and pulled him over and arrested him.

He denied having a knife at the store, but police found one in the passenger seat of his truck that matched the description of the one used in the attack.

He pleaded not guilty at arraignment Tuesday and was ordered held in lieu of $80,000 bail.

In addition to first-degree robbery, he was also charged with second-degree assault, third-degree retail theft with special circumstances, driving with a suspended license and failing to have an ignition-interlock device in his truck — to keep him from driving after drinking alcohol.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell