Toy thief uses pepper spray at Auburn grocery store

Typically, the daily log of police activities the Auburn Police Department forwards to area news agencies like the Auburn Reporter are presented in skeletal form only, requiring amplification before their publication.

Below, the Auburn Reporter offers two such items, both of which occured on Jan. 5, both of which appeared in the Jan. 15 edition of the paper under the Police Blotter, and both of which have here been fleshed out with police assistance.

Jan. 5: Strong-arm robbery

At 12:03 p.m. in the Grocery Outlet at 102 Cross St. SE, a store employee confronted a man who had concealed a number of items on his person. The man reacted by throwing some of the items into a freezer and walked out the front door.

He was still carrying a children’s toy, however, for which he had not paid.

According to witnesses, as the man left, he produced a canister of pepper spray, which he then released into the air to keep a pursuing employee from stopping him and the store from wresting away the toy he was stealing.

The employee later described the stolen item as a white children’s toy worth between $5 and $10.

“The suspect was not located or identified, so there is no explanation for his actions,” said Assistant Chief of Police Mark Caillier. “His age was estimated between 20-25 years. There was a female accompanying the suspect, but she did not take part in the incident.”

Until a viable suspect is located, Caillier said, the case will remain suspended.

Caillier said the police officer who responded to the call experienced some effect from the residual pepper spray in the air.

Assault with injury

At 7:33 p.m. in the 1600 block of 8th Street Northeast, police arrested a guy who allegedly tried to strangle his pregnant girlfriend and then pushed her out of his moving vehicle.

The woman was transported to MultiCare Auburn Medical Center for treatment. Police did not know the extent of her injuries or how fast the car was moving at the time of the incident.

“The subjects were apparently arguing over alleged relationship infidelities,” according to Caillier. “This argument led to the suspect allegedly pushing the victim out of a moving vehicle. The suspect was located, but exercised his right not to answer questions.”

Police booked the man into King County Jail on suspicion of second-degree assault domestic violence and forwarded the case to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, which will determine whether to file charges.