Aaron Smith, Ex-Tempe Cop, Pleads Guilty to Stealing From Police Department
Aaron Smith, a former Tempe patrol officer who decided to steal from a building full of cops -- the police department -- has pleaded guilty to a theft charge.
Smith, who was caught taking some cash, bikes, and a GPS unit that didn't even work, told his fellow officers that he was suffering from "extreme financial hardship."
Officers around the Tempe Police Department started noticing in July 2012 that stuff around the department started to go missing, and that stuff just happened to go missing during Smith's shift, in the general areas where Smith had access.
That includes the lock box that was broken into, which had around $750 in it, police said.
Police decided to test out the theory that Smith was their guy, as an undercover detective gave Smith a purse with $142 in it, telling him it was found property.
About three days later, neither the purse nor the money had been impounded.
Smith was arrested that morning, as police served search warrants on his house, cars, and work locker. Two Tempe Police Department bicycles were found at Smith's house, as was the purse, which didn't have any of the money left in it.
Smith admitted to the thefts, and claimed that he got the bicycles for his children, while he tossed the GPS unit in the garbage, apparently after he found out that it wouldn't work.
Police say Smith's total haul was just over $1,000, which definitely seems like it wasn't worth it for a 7 1/2-year veteran.
Smith initially faced charges of felony theft, burglary, and tampering with evidence, as well as misdemeanor theft, but his guilty plea just includes a theft charge.
His sentencing is set for June 7.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.