Two individuals in Puyallup, Washington won't be having a happy new year after being arrested on a laundry list of charges. They are alleged (more on that in a bit) to have cased a cell-phone store and stolen $40,000 worth of cell phones in some ill-advised end-of-year fundraising. Our tale involves a rental car (of course), "alleged" criminal behavior, and a number of head-scratching decisions that reveal just how bad criminals are at strategic implementation. Fortunately for the rest of the population, bad strategy leads to quick apprehension!
Puyallup is located in Pierce County, Washington, not too far south of Seattle-Tacoma, a region previously visited by the Fee Detective. Our two protagonists, Mitchell and Simpson decided to rob a cell phone store, initially posing as shoppers until pulling firearms on the staff, requiring the staff to load a bag with cell phones / smartwatches, and ironically instructing the store staff to "not do anything stupid" while themselves unwisely committing "stupid" acts. And off they left with approximately $40,000 in new technology.
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag (of Stolen Cell Phones)
How did they get caught? One of the staff members at the cell phone store caught the license plate of the getaway vehicle and called police. The police discerned it was a rental and -- realizing the car was due to be returned that day -- waited at the Enterprise rental car location with a SWAT team. Mitchell and Simpson dutifully returned the vehicle on time, paged an Uber, and were quickly detained.
The police, after procuring a warrant, discovered a number of items of interest:
- Mitchell was carrying a credit card in someone else's name, the name she used to rent the car. Most rentals in false names aren't returned on time ...
- The early suggestion that the robbery was planned? The police found a great deal of corroborating evidence:
"One phone had photos of the store from before the robbery, as well as text messages planning the heist, an inventory of what was stolen and an agreement to sell the devices for $19,000."
- Mitchell had one of the stolen smart watches concealed in her bra.
- Mitchell and Simpson each had approximately $9,400 in cash, which is remarkably close to $19,000 (less a bit of shopping).
- The police found the two firearms.
- The police also found an undisclosed quantity of meth, as few stories about criminal behavior in a rental car lack a drug connection ...
We suspect the ending of the story will be a lengthy term of incarceration for both individuals. Mitchell and Simpson are each awaiting trial on 11 charges (thus far) in Pierce County:
- Three charges of first-degree kidnapping,
- Three charges of first-degree robbery,
- Three charges of assault in the second degree,
- One charge of first-degree burglary,
- One charge of first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm