Crime

Police beat: A bungled car-theft report, a crying shoplifter, and an AR-15

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

Feb. 14: Surprisingly, if you report a stolen car, the cops remember — so if they find you driving the car a day later, and the guy you accused of stealing it is sitting in the passenger seat, the questions might get awkward.

On Feb. 13, The sheriff’s deputy was cruising along 140th Avenue KPN near Doyle Pond when a 21-year-old man flagged him down.

The man said his car had been stolen in Kitsap County. He provided a license plate number, and a description that included a distinctive bumper sticker. He said he was going to report the theft to cops in the neighboring county.

The man said the car had been parked at a friend’s house before it disappeared, but a witness had seen it being driven a few blocks away. The man named the suspected driver.

The deputy ran a records check and linked the name to a Longbranch man, 26, who had an active felony warrant for his arrest from the state Department of Corrections. As reported, the theft was out of the deputy’s jurisdiction, so he took no further steps.

The next day, the deputy spotted a car on Highway 302 and recognized the plate and the bumper sticker. He pulled it over, and found the man who had reported the theft a day earlier. In the passenger seat sat the Longbranch man with the active arrest warrant.

What was going on?

The first man said he wanted to look for his car before actually reporting it stolen, and he’d found it.

The second man gave a false name at first. The deputy called him on it. The man gave in. The deputy cuffed him, and placed him in a patrol car.

The Longbranch man was booked into the Pierce County Jail on the arrest warrant. The other man had traffic violations on his record. The deputy gave him a warning and released him.

Feb. 12: The shoplifter might have escaped, but she made the mistake of grabbing a security officer’s cell phone and hurling it.

Two Tacoma officers answered a call from the Walmart store at 1965 S. Union Avenue. The report said the suspect was uncooperative.

Officers spoke to a loss prevention officer, 26, who said she and her co-workers spotted a woman stealing items. They followed her, and stopped her when she tried to walk outside.

The woman, 28, reportedly grabbed the officer’s mobile phone and threw a perfect strike into the officer’s face.

The Tacoma officers spoke to the woman. She was crying. She said she didn’t know the people were working security, and she didn’t mean to hit the other woman with the phone.

The loss prevention officers were ready with video footage. It showed the woman walking outside, being approached, grabbing the phone and throwing it. The loss prevention officers said they clearly identified themselves.

The Tacoma officer booked the woman into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of misdemeanor assault.

Feb. 12: If you’re packing an AR-15 in your car, you might want to make sure the wheels are legal.

The sheriff’s deputies were driving through the 13400 block of Highway 302 near North Bay when they spotted a car with expired tabs. The sticker dated to April 2017.

They pulled the car over. The driver, a 23-year-old Longbranch man, shook a little and held a metal tube with a piece of rubber on one end.

The deputies knew such tools were typically used for smoking heroin. The man said he used the tube for his “cocoa,” and pointed to a coffee cup on the floorboard.

One deputy asked the man where he was going. Longbranch, the man said.

The deputy pointed out that they were on a dead-end road that didn’t lead to Longbranch. The man said he knew that. He said he pulled into the cul-de-sac hoping to avoid a ticket for the expired tabs.

Asked for identification, registration and insurance, the man said he didn’t have any. He said he had an AR-15 rifle in the back seat.

The deputy asked the man to step out of the car. A frisk revealed five knives. Why so many?

The man said he liked knives.

The deputy peered into the car and saw the AR-15 in the back seat. It appeared to have a loaded magazine in the receiver.

The second deputy asked the man if the rifle was loaded. The man said yes. The man was cuffed. The first deputy told him he was under arrest for carrying a loaded rifle in a vehicle. The man said he understood.

The deputies asked if the man was afraid of someone or owed money. The man said he owed a little here and there, but everyone in the neighborhood was edgy because of a recent shooting.

One deputy asked the man’s permission to retrieve the rifle. The man agreed.

The deputy looked the weapon over. The magazine contained 29 rounds. The deputy worked the bolt and ejected a round from the chamber.

The man had a valid license to carry a concealed weapon. He said he bought the rifle five months earlier. He admitted he was a heroin addict.

The deputies confiscated the weapon as evidence, handed the man a citation for the firearm violation and the expired tabs, and released him at the scene.

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