Richard Burke is a soldier currently serving in Iraq. Up until a few days ago, he was also renting an apartment in Mesa, and was in the process of buying a new truck. Sort of.
It turns out one of Burke's high school buddies saw his deployment less as a noble act of service to his country, and more as a golden opportunity to steal his identity.
According to Mesa Detective Steve Berry, Burke, while in Iraq, noticed that $6,000 was missing from his bank account in Arizona on August 11.
He called his mother, who has power of attorney over his bank accounts while he's away, to ask if she had taken the money for some sort of emergency. The mother told him no, so the two began checking into Burke's credit.
Burke and his mother discovered that Riverside Nissan in Mesa had recently run a check on his credit.
Burke's mother called the dealership to see why it was interested in her son's credit and was told it was because he was trying to buy a new truck.
Clearly, Burke, who is currently on another continent, wasn't capable of buying a truck in Mesa, which his mother pointed out to an employee at the dealership.
Burke's family friend, 22-year-old Richard Schrodt, however, was in a position to buy a truck in Mesa -- under Burke's name -- and was actually in the dealership trying to do so when Burke's mother placed her call.
Dealership employees, now hip to the fact that the person trying to buy the truck wasn't Burke, tried to stall Schrodt. Schrodt took off running, though, and got away.
Mesa police caught up with him at the apartment in which he'd been living yesterday, where he was arrested.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
The apartment, it turns out, was being rented under Burke's name.
Berry says Schrodt, who is also currently on probation for a similar crime, looks similar enough to Burke that he was able to get a duplicate driver's license and assume his identity.
Even after he was arrested, Schrodt maintained that he was in fact Richard Burke, which cops proved was bullshit after running his fingerprints.
Schrodt was booked on three counts of forgery and three counts of identity theft.