Stupid Criminal of the Week

There is often a fine line between brilliance and stupidity. This is one of those cases.

A patrol officer responded to a shoplifting call at the University of Washington-Tacoma bookstore on Oct. 28 after one of the clerks spotted a man stuffing a stack of books into his backpack. The clerk approached the 30-year-old man about the attempted theft, sparking the thief to run from the store and flee the area.

The responding officer interviewed witnesses and got descriptions of the shoplifter. The officer then radioed an alert to downtown police officers and campus security to be on the lookout for the suspect. A campus security officer had the suspect in a patrol car a minute after the alert, according to police reports. The suspect had apparently approached the security guard, asking him if he could sit in his patrol car to get warmed up for a few minutes because he was homeless and had no other place to go. Whether the suspect was brilliant by trying to hide in plain sight or just stupid is irrelevant at this point. He was arrested. He admitted to stealing $600 in textbooks as part of a scheme to resell them for cash to celebrate his birthday.

Another instance of “brilliant stupidity” unfolded in the Pierce County Jail parking lot, also on Oct. 28. Jailers monitoring security cameras spotted a man apparently trying to break into cars. Corrections officers called Tacoma police, who interviewed the man after jailers had detained him. The man had apparently rifled through the saddlebags of a motorcycle belonging to a corrections officer and also was preparing to shatter the window of a car with a rock. The rock was found on the hood of the car, but there was no damage or items stolen. The man refused to give his name, but officers found his identification during a search. He refused to talk to officers and asked for an attorney.

A quirky fact of this case is that the man was arrested and taken to Fife Jail some 10 minutes away, even though he was arrested just feet away from the Pierce County Jail’s inmate intake door.


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