Police Beat: A parking lot prowler, a phone charger, and a no-contact reversal

Dec. 18: At first the parking lot prowler posed as his own brother. Then he decided he owed his sibling no favors.

The south parking lot at Tacoma Mall was filling up; the officer cruised the perimeter on routine holiday duty. More shoppers meant more cars and more unlocked doors.

The officer’s radio crackled. From inside the mall, a loss-prevention agent sounded an alarm. Someone was walking through the south lot, testing door handles.

Description: white male, black hooded sweatshirt, black shorts. The officer soon tracked the man down and stopped him.

The man said he’d lost his ID. He gave a name and a birthdate that put his age at 46. He denied testing door handles and said he was just walking.

The officer checked the name, found a couple of active arrest warrants and told the man about them. The man changed his story and said he’d lied about his name; he said he was pretending to be his brother.

He gave a new name. Another records check led to a different arrest warrant and booking photos that matched the man’s face. He was 49.

The officer arrested the man on suspicion of obstructing an officer. The man agreed to answer questions.

Why did he give a false name?

“I am sorry for that,” the man said, according to the report. “I thought I would clear up my brother’s warrant for him, but then I thought, what has he done for me lately, so that’s why I changed my mind and told the truth.”

A subsequent check of surveillance video showed the man walking through the parking lot, testing multiple doors. The officer booked him into the Fife City Jail.

Dec. 17: The transient owned a flip phone and a car charger, but no car. All was not lost; he camped next to a car lot.

The dispatch call came in shortly after midnight as a vehicle prowl in progress. Officers drove to a car dealership in the 3800 block of South Tacoma Way.

A security guard said he’d seen a man sitting inside a 2013 Dodge Dart. The man had ridden away on a bicycle. Officers swiftly rounded him up.

They checked the Dart and found a flip phone plugged into the charger in the center console. The car was undamaged, and nothing was missing.

Officers spoke to the man on the bicycle. They recognized him from prior contacts. He was 50, and typically camped in the underbrush along the nearby railroad tracks. He wore a bike helmet and carried a red lunch box.

The man said the phone was his. He said he was charging it in the car. He said he wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Officers asked if he had permission to enter any of the vehicles on the car lot. The man said he didn’t. Officers cited him for trespassing and told him he was banned from the car lot. The man said he understood.

Dec. 15: The woman wanted police to kick everyone out of the apartment, which took moxie, since she was the one who wasn’t supposed to be there.

The dispatch call came in as a reported disturbance at an apartment complex in the 900 block of North Pearl Street. One 911 caller said a loud argument was going on. Another, from inside the apartment, came from a woman who said she was barricaded in one of the rooms.

Four officers arrived at the scene and spoke to a bystander, who pointed to one of the units. Officers heard a woman’s voice shouting.

They stepped to the door. It opened abruptly. A woman invited them in. She was 41.

“They are in the bedroom and I want them out,” she said.

Officers asked the woman for her name. She didn’t want to give it.

Did she live at the apartment?


They noticed a man sleeping on the floor of the living room. Who was that?

“That’s my boyfriend,” the woman said.

The man woke up and sat on a couch. Officers kept talking to the woman. They asked who was in the bedroom.

The woman said it was her sister and her boyfriend. They weren’t welcome, she said. They didn’t live in the apartment, and she wanted them kicked out.

Again, officers asked the woman for her name. Again, she wouldn’t give it. She said she wanted a lawyer.

One officer said he couldn’t kick anyone out without knowing who was who, and who didn’t belong. The woman wasn’t persuaded.

Officers spoke to the man on the couch. He identified himself, and identified the woman by name.

Officers knew the name. The woman had a no-contact order that banned her from the apartment. On a previous call to the same address, she had escaped through a bedroom window.

Another officer spoke to the couple in the bedroom: the sister and her boyfriend. They said they barricaded themselves in the bedroom to get away from the woman.

The sister, 34, was the petitioner on the no-contact order, which required the older woman to stay away. The apartment belonged to the mother of the two women.

The younger sister said she and her boyfriend lived at the apartment and took care of Mom, who was sick and had been taken to the hospital the previous night.

The younger sister said the woman came to the apartment after that, and started drinking and shouting and ordering them to leave.

Officers handcuffed the older woman, and asked her name once more. This time, she gave it. Apart from the no-contact order, she had an active arrest warrant from the state Department of Corrections.

Officers told the woman she was under arrest. She declined to answer questions. They booked her into the Fife City Jail.