Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Serial Purse Bandits In-Custody

During an eight day span in the beginning of January, three women had their purses stolen from them in the parking lots of three different shopping centers in East Mesa. In one incident, the victim was struck by the getaway vehicle as she chased the purse snatcher. In another incident, an 87-year-old woman was knocked to the ground as the suspect stole her purse. Money was taken and stolen credit cards were used at multiple local businesses.

Thankfully, witnesses assisted Mesa PD in describing the vehicle as a black pickup truck and one recorded the license plate. This led to the arrests of 37-year-old Justin Gene Mauk, who was the owner and driver of the getaway vehicle, and 28-year-old Bill Elliot Leatherman, whom we believe was the one snatching the purses.

Mauk was charged with burglary, aggravated robbery and armed robbery.

Leatherman was charged with burglary, aggravated robbery and theft. 
This is a good reminder to please be aware of your surroundings when entering and exiting businesses. Also, if you go shopping at night, park in a well-lit area and as close to the business as possible. Thank you to the witnesses and great job by our detectives out of the Superstition Patrol District.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Armed Robbery

On January 23 at 12:35 pm, the listed suspect entered the CVS store in the 2800 block of South Sossaman and approached the front register with some items to purchase; he also requested a pack of cigarettes. He then brandished a knife with approximately a six-inch blade and demanded money from the register. A witness saw him enter the listed vehicle.

The suspect is described as a White male, late teens or early 20's, 5' 7" to 5' 9" tall with dark hair. The vehicle is described as an older model white passenger car, possibly a Toyota or Honda. 

Please submit any information regarding the crime or identity of the suspect(s) through the “Submit a Tip” option at or text information to 274-637 (CRIMES). Begin your message with MESAPD. You can also call 480-644-2211 and select option 2. Refer to case number 20140230305.

7-year-old Crashes ATV

On January 26 at 2:57 pm, Mesa patrol officers responded to an accident with injuries involving a 7-year-old female crashing an ATV into a wall in the 1400 block of West Vine near Alma School and Broadway. The child was driving the ATV by herself on the public road and lost control, causing her to hit a curb on the north side of the street. The girl was thrown from the ATV and hit the wall head first; she was not wearing a protective helmet. She was unconscious at the scene and is currently in stable, but guarded condition at a local hospital. The 30-year-old father will be charged with Endangerment.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

DUI Suspect Strikes Officer With Vehicle While Fleeing Traffic Stop

This morning at approximately 5:10 AM, we had a two-man unit initiate a traffic stop on a red Toyota truck with a single occupant.  The truck initially pulled over at Cicero/Higley and our officers made contact with the driver, whom was identified as 37 year-old Rogelio Vargas.  The officers detected the odor of burnt Marijuana coming from the vehicle and asked the driver to step out of the truck.

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Vargas opened the door as if to get out, but instead shifted into drive and sped off striking our officer with the door and side of truck as he fled.  The officer was able to maintain his footing and get back to his vehicle.  Due to Vargas hitting our officer and the indication he may be impaired, the officers initiated a pursuit, which led them into the neighborhood in this area.

Approximately, one minute later, as the suspect vehicle came back out onto Higley at Adobe, it rolled as Vargas had taken the corner too fast.  Our officers immediately drew their weapons and took him into custody without further incident.  Our officer and Vargas were both seen at the hospital and later released with minor injuries.  

During interview, Vargas stated he did not remember what happened and had used a large amount of illegal drugs that night. He was booked into our jail for Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer and Unlawful Flight.  In addition, Vargas will be charged with DUI Drugs via a long form complaint.

They say football is a game of inches, sometimes so is law enforcement.  Needless to say, we are thankful our officers are okay and no citizens were injured by this suspect's reckless driving.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Suspect Arrested After Breaking In To Mesa Residence

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On 1/18/14 at approximately 5:45 AM, Mesa patrol officers responded to the 4200 block of N. Tabor reference an armed robbery / home invasion. The reporting party called to say that a subject kicked in his front door and was standing inside his house. The suspect said he had a gun, but the RP did not see one. The male then left the home in an unknown direction. 

As responding officers arrived a perimeter was established. An officer on scene advised he could hear glass breaking at a house to the west of the dispatched location in the 4200 block of N. Katmai. As officers were surrounding that house, the suspect came running down the driveway and was placed at gunpoint and taken into custody. A check of that residence found the suspect's wallet in the backyard and his backpack on the upstairs balcony, which can be accessed by stairs at the rear of the home. He was identified as 23 year-old Curtis Archer.

One-on-one identifications were conducted and Archer was positively identified. During interview, Archer stated he was being chased by someone with a shotgun and needed to hide. He also admitted to smoking Methamphetamine earlier in the night.  He was then booked into the Mesa Jail for felony and misdemeanor criminal trespass, 4 counts of disorderly conduct and 2 counts of criminal damage.

Intoxicated Male Points Gun At Police Officers

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On 01/18/2014 at 2117 hours, Mesa patrol officers respond to the 2000 block of  E. Des Moines in an attempt to locate a hit & run suspect in reference to a vehicle collision at Stapley and Southern. When the homeowner, 49 year-old Robert Neilson, answered the door, officers ask him if the hit & run suspect is there. Neilson tells the officers he is there, then takes a step back and pulls a handgun from his waistband, points it at the officers and says “Do you want this?” 

Due to being in such close proximity to Neilson, the officers first reaction was to grab the handgun and turn it away from themselves. A physical struggle for the handgun ensued and an officer was able to get it away from Neilson. The officers took Neilson to the ground, but he continued to physically struggle with the officers. At one point, Neilson was reaching for the handgun which was now on the ground. The officers were eventually able to take Neilson into custody. Robert Neilson was examined / treated at the scene by Mesa Fire paramedics for injuries. Neilson was transported to Banner Desert hospital for further treatment / medical clearance and his level of alcohol intoxication.

One of the officers received minor abrasions to his knees during the struggle. Neilson was booked on two counts of Aggravated Assault on Law enforcement and one count of Resisting Arrest. This was a very dangerous situation that could have ended tragically different for all involved, had it not been for the actions of our officers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Crime Stats - December 2013

The following are the top 5 calls for service and arrests for each patrol district -- 12/01/2013 through 12/31/2013.

Call TypeFrequencyCall TypeFrequency
Subjects Disturbing399Subjects Disturbing380
Check Welfare303Check Welfare318
Loud Music/Noise200Other Agency Assist205
Other Agency Assist155Suspicious Activity192
Suspicious Activity154Loud Music/Noise171

Aggravated Assault9Rape1
Breaking & Entering12Robbery5
Theft80Aggravated Assault7
Alcohol/DUI71Breaking & Entering4
Other Assaults41Theft64
Disorderly Conduct17GTA1
Fiscal/Forgery16Other Assaults41
Loitering/Runaway2Disorderly Conduct41
All Other135Fiscal/Forgery11


Sex Offenses1


All Other209

Call TypeFrequencyCall TypeFrequency
Check Welfare362Check Welfare341
Subjects Disturbing357Subjects Disturbing231
Loud Music/Noise253Burglary Alarm227
Suspicious Activity248Other Agency Assist212
Burglary Alarm210Suspicious Activity165

Aggravated Assault8Aggravated Assault3
Breaking & Entering6Breaking & Entering3
Alcohol/DUI62Other Assaults24
Other Assaults34Disorderly Conduct15
Disorderly Conduct21Drugs38
Sex Offenses3Sex Offenses4
All Other140All Other62


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Suspect Arrested After Lurking Around Closed Businesses

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Stopping crime before it happens, or being "proactive" as we say in law enforcement.  That is just what one of our officers was doing at 2 am on January 16th, when he noticed a white Chevy truck trolling the parking lot of closed businesses at Greenfield and McKellips.  Our officer, out of The Red Mountain Patrol District, got into a position where he could watch this individual without being seen.  The truck seemed to amble about the lot, slowing near businesses (which were closed) until it backed into a parking space in front of a Verizon Wireless store.

After only a couple of minutes, inexplicably, the truck drove off at a high rate of speed onto the roadway.  Our officer initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle for a traffic violation and contacted 37 year-old Rafael Luis Valenzuela.  Valenzuela was in possession of Marijuana and drug paraphernalia, for which he was arrested.  Inside the vehicle was a box of latex gloves and numerous tools, to include multiple lock/bolt cutters. 

Valenzuela gave no reason for being in Mesa, at 2 AM, in a parking lot full of closed businesses and gave a Phoenix address as his residence, before refusing further interview. A history check revealed Valenzuela had a criminal history of numerous burglaries in the Phoenix area.  So, a shout out to Officer Stoddard for some excellent, proactive police work. Way to represent brother!!!

Kindergarten Teacher Booked on 25 Counts of Indecent Exposure

Photo of Suspect, Thomas Washburn
A Mesa Kindergarten teacher has been arrested and booked for 25 counts of Indecent Exposure and one count of Child Abuse stemming from an incident in his classroom. Thomas Washburn, age 54, teaches Kindergarten at Adams Elementary School in Mesa where the incident occurred on January 15, 2014.

The victim, a 6-year-old female, was in class with 24 classmates on the afternoon of January 15. Washburn was reportedly upset and shouting in the class causing the victim to hide her face in the top of her shirt. The victim's mother described her daughter as "developmentally delayed" due to being born prematurely. It appears that based on shouting, the child was frightened and hiding in her shirt. When Washburn told her to take her face out of the shirt and she did not comply, he went to her and completely removed her shirt, leaving her naked from the waist up. The victim was left in that state for approximately 10 minutes crying as class continued. Eventually Washburn returned her clothing and that was the end of the incident.

When the victim's mother arrived after school to pick up the child, Washburn told the parent what he had done. She was extremely upset and immediately contacted the Principal's office. When staff learned of the incident, they contacted our department and the investigation was opened. Detectives interviewed the victim and her mother and confirmed what had happened. Washburn was at school late due to conferences and was contacted by detectives. He was transported to Mesa Police Headquarters to be interviewed. Washburn invoked his rights and declined to answer any questions. He was booked at that time for one count of Child Abuse and one count of Indecent Exposure C1M. At the time of the incident, there was one adult aide in the classroom.

This morning, detectives continued the investigation and ultimately added an additional 24 counts of Indecent Exposure C4F for each of the students present at the time of the incident. This investigation is ongoing, but at this time we unaware of any similar crimes of this nature in the classroom.

Mesa Public Schools and the Mesa Police Department are working cooperatively on the investigation to ensure that all available information is gathered and to ensure the safe education of the children attending the Mesa Public Schools.