Crime

Police Beat: A bungled car theft, a facefull of pepper spray and a name-dropper

Staff file

Editor’s note: Compiled from reports to Tacoma police.

Aug. 16: The instructions for bungling a car theft are unwritten, but the two teens had no trouble checking most of the boxes.

The dispatch call came in at 1 a.m. — a report of two males running away from a stolen car crashed in an alley. An officer drove to an address in the 700 block of South Sheridan Avenue.

He found a maroon 1994 Oldsmobile, the front end crunched against a cement wall.

A witness said he heard a crash, saw his neighbor’s smashed car and a figure running away in the dark.

The witness said the car was still running. He’d reached in and turned off the ignition as other neighbors gathered.

A second witness said he was lying in bed when he heard the crash and a male voice shouting a curse. The second witness ran outside and spotted two males: teens, one with a black T-shirt, the other with a turquoise T-shirt and curly hair.

Other officers called to the scene chased the suspects. Soon, they found the one in the black T-shirt — a 13-year-old.

The kid gave a false name at first. A records check exposed the lie. The kid said his name had been legally changed. The officer found no evidence to prove it.

The kid gave his friend’s name, again lying; the officers spotted that after another records check. The kid said the false name was his friend’s Facebook name. Officers found nothing to back that up.

The kid said he and his friend were spending the night at another friend’s house, but they got thrown out. They started walking home and saw the Oldsmobile in a garage. The kid said his friend was the one who entered the car, started it and crashed it against the wall. The kid said he never got into the car.

The kid led the officer to his friend’s house. The officer spoke to the second kid’s father, who corrected the fake names. He said he didn’t know where his 13-year-old son was; the boy was a chronic runaway, and the father couldn’t control him.

The officer talked to the first kid again and searched him. He was carrying an identification card and a debit card that belonged to the stolen car’s owner.

How did the kid have these things if he hadn’t entered the car, as he claimed? The kid said his friend handed him the stuff.

The officer booked the kid into Remann Hall on suspicion of car theft and possession of stolen property. Officers found the other boy about seven hours later and booked him for car theft.

Aug. 17: The hotel owners kept trying to make the transient go away, but words didn’t work.

The dispatch call reported a fight between two men, one carrying a baseball bat. Officers drove to the 8600 block of Pacific Avenue. They found the combatants. One was 25, holding a baseball bat in one hand and a pepper sprayer in the other.

The other man was the transient, 31, writhing on the ground and screaming that he was “burning.” Officers called for medical aid and spoke to the man with the bat.

The man worked at a nearby hotel. He said the transient had been bothering customers for days, coming into the hotel and trying to sneak into the rooms.

The hotel owner, a 59-year-old man, had confronted the transient and chased him. The transient hit the older man, who yelled for help. The younger man ran out with the baseball bat and the sprayer.

When the transient stepped forward, the younger man aimed the sprayer and fired — a full dose to the face, he said.

Officers interviewed the hotel owner and his wife, who backed up the story. They spoke to the transient, who said, “They’re killing me.”

The transient said he’d been beaten with the bat. Officers looked him over. The man was shirtless, and officers saw no marks or bruises.

Officers cuffed the man and headed for the Pierce County Jail, intending to book him on suspicion of misdemeanor assault. On the way, the man said he needed medical aid. The officer drove him to a nearby hospital and handed him a citation with a court date.

Aug. 18: Sometimes snatching the car keys from a wasted friend is a thankless chore.

The dispatch call reported a disturbance. The caller said his drunken friend was having a tantrum about the keys, hurling garbage cans and breaking mailboxes.

Two officers drove to the 6400 block of South L Street, found two men arguing, and separated them.

One man was 38, and relieved. He handed a set of car keys to an officer. They belonged to a silver 2012 Mazda 3, parked nearby with its lights on.

The man said he and the friend had been drinking. The friend agreed to drive the man home, but the ride was terrifying. The man described two near-miss, head-on collisions.

He said he told his friend to pull over; the friend refused. When they reached the man’s house, the man pulled the keys out of the ignition and kept them.

The friend got mad, the man said, and took a swing at him before knocking over garbage cans and ripping a mailbox from its post.

Officers spoke to the friend, who was 42 and blasted. They asked about the garbage cans.

“I didn’t hit them with my car,” the man said.

What about the mailbox?

“I didn’t hit it with my car.”

Officers cuffed the man and told him he was under arrest for drunken driving.

The man erupted and dropped the name of a prominent Pierce County family.

“You’re a fool! You don’t know me,” the man told the officer. “Shut the door, rookie! You know the (family name)? They’re good friends of mine.”

During the arrest interview, the man agreed to take a breath alcohol test and said he was sure he’d pass it. But he blew tiny breaths into the mouthpiece, and the meter didn’t register.

One officer drove the man to the Pierce County Jail for booking on suspicion of drunken driving. On the way, the man asked a question.

“Do you know any famous people in this town?”

“Why?”

“You’re gonna need to if you’re gonna pin this rookie DUI call on me.”

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