Homeless Man Arrested for a Felony for Stealing a Burrito

Timothy Bell and a burrito
Timothy Bell and a burrito Maricopa County Sheriff's Office/
Around 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 16, 29-year-old Timothy James Bell allegedly stole someone else's burrito while walking down West Woodland Avenue near Van Buren Street. Now, he's in jail facing a class 6 felony charge.

Phoenix police officer Matthew Tate said he was responding to a 911 call from a person who said Bell stole his burrito "by force" and "made threatening statements." Tate doesn't say what threats were made or what kind of forced was used to take the burrito.

The caller followed Bell until police showed up, then told cops his version of what happened.

Police say they found a "wrapper from the burrito he stole" in Bell's possession when they arrested him.

Bell, who police note is homeless in his arrest report, was then taken to jail. Tate listed the charge against Bell as robbery, a class 4 felony, because Bell had been accused of taking another person's property with threats or force. Police say Bell was unarmed.

But on November 19 the county attorney's office charged Bell with theft, a class 6 felony, because he "without lawful authority, did take the ... burrito, of a value less than $1,000." Usually, theft of any property or services worth less than $1,000 is a misdemeanor. But Arizona law states that if the property is "taken from the person of another," then the theft is considered a class 6 felony.

On November 22, Bell decided to plead guilty to the charge. He's set for a sentencing hearing on December 27. As part of the plea agreement, a motion to dismiss the allegation that Bell was on probation at the time of his November 16 arrest will be submitted prior to his sentencing.

A motion not to consider Bell's prior convictions at sentencing will also be submitted. Bell had been in trouble in the past for trespassing, drug possession, disorderly conduct, and weapon possession.

As of November 27, Bell was being held at the county's Fourth Avenue Jail, where he will likely remain until his next court date, December 6.
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Meg O'Connor was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from April 2019 to April 2020.