Crime

Police Beat: Trespassers, punches and metal thieves

Sept. 17: The trespasses were not forgiven.

They started at an apartment complex in the 5600 block of North 37th Street. The dispatch call said a young couple were wandering around the complex and refusing to leave. Officers drove to the scene.

The original call came from a working father. The couple knocked on his apartment door while he wasn’t home.

The man’s 16-year-old son answered the door. The couple — a man and a woman — had walked inside the apartment without permission.

Officers spoke to the boy. He said he didn’t know the couple; they’d walked right past him when he opened the door. He told them to go. They lingered a little and left, but hung around the entrance.

Officers spoke to the manager of the complex. She described the trespassing pair. She saw them having sex in a stairwell. The man had relieved himself in front of the building, she said.

She identified herself and told them to leave the property, she said. They refused at first — then the female had walked away. The manager added that she suspected both were drunk.

The man wore a wine-stained white T-shirt, dark blue pants and Chuck Taylor Converse shoes, the manager said. As officers continued the interview, the manager pointed to a trio of men walking through the parking lot. One of them wore a white shirt with wine stains, blue pants and Chuck Taylors.

The manager said that was the guy. Officers corralled him. He was 36, from University Place. He smelled of liquor. Officers asked where his girlfriend went. The man said he didn’t have one.

Officers told the man he was being detained. The man said the officer was “straight trippin’.”

Officers cuffed the man, took him the Fife City Jail and booked him on suspicion of criminal trespassing.

Sept. 15: Pop quiz — you borrow 40 bucks from a friend who uses a wheelchair and lets you walk in and out of his apartment as you please.

Your friend asks about the money you owe. Two choices:

A. Pay him.

B. Punch him in the face a few times.

The Tacoma man chose Option B. The situation ended badly.

Officers drove to an address in the 4000 block of South M Street, responding to a reported assault. They found a 60-year-old man lying on his bed, his wheelchair nearby.

The man said he had multiple sclerosis. He said he used marijuana to medicate. An empty bottle of Wild Turkey suggested he was doubling up on meds.

The man smelled of liquor and slurred his words, but he gave a coherent account. He said he’d been sitting in bed watching TV when a friend walked in through the open door. The man said he typically left the door to his apartment unlocked so friends could come in and out.

The two men talked for a while. The friend was 61. The man on the bed reminded his friend about a $40 debt. The friend got mad and started punching.

The man yelled. The friend ran out the front door of the apartment, the man said. Then the friend ran outside the building, tried to reach the man through the open window and fled.

Officers saw red marks on the man’s face and eye. They spoke to witnesses who were standing at the entrance of the apartment. One said he’d heard sounds of a scuffle and stepped out of his own apartment to see what was going on.

The witness said he saw the friend punching the 60-year-old. How much?

“About 20 times — he was using both his fists,” the witness said.

The witness said he shouted at the friend to stop. Another neighbor rushed in at this point and tried to restrain the friend; the neighbor took an elbow to the face before the friend fled.

Officers found the friend about 40 minutes later, outside a grocery store. They cuffed him, took him to the Fife City Jail and booked him on suspicion of criminal assault.

Sept. 13: Apparently, the metal thieves didn’t know about the surveillance cameras. They weren’t too smart about scrap receipts, either.

The collar took two steps. The first stage was the original theft report, from a business in the 3300 block of East 11th Street. The manager told officers his scrap bin had been raided.

Officers took a look at the security footage. They saw a man standing in a driveway, not far from a scrap bin. On the tape, the man’s voice urged another man to “back it right in here.”

A gray Dodge Ram pulled into the frame, backing its cab to the bin. A second man got out of the truck. The first man climbed into the bin; he barked instructions to the second man, telling him how to arrange the loot. With a full load, the truck pulled into another area of the yard, where the two men loaded something else.

The business manager told officers what was missing, including a battery charger and a distinctive forklift fork. The manager said he called a recycling business on Marine View Drive on a hunch.

The hunch was right. Items similar to those stolen had been sold at the recycling business. Officers took a short trip to the 1600 block of Marine View Drive. They brought the manager along.

At the recycling business, they spoke to a second manager, who remembered the Dodge Ram — a distinctive vehicle. He described the two men who drove it. The descriptions matched the video footage.

The second manager knew one of the men: a repeat customer who had been banned from selling anything to the business because he owed money. The second manager had a copy of the man’s driver’s license, and showed it to the officers, who now had a name to go with the image.

Officers looked over the scrap that had been sold. They found a battery charger and a forklift fork. The first manager identified both items.

Officers looked at the paperwork tied to the sale. The second man had signed for the money. Officers now had the names of both.

They took a look at one more piece of paper: a required information slip that described the seller’s vehicle.

Officers had enough paper to compare notes. The description of the truck was slightly off. The model year was wrong. So was the make.

Writing the reports took a bit of time. As the officer was finishing up, he got a call from the recycling business: The truck was back. The officer headed for Marine View Drive.

Both men were there. The officer arrested them and told them why.

One man had outstanding warrants for unrelated incidents. Officers booked him into the Fife City Jail on the warrants and on suspicion of misdemeanor theft. The second man was cited for misdemeanor theft and released at the scene.

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