By Carlos Padilla
An Elephant Butte man has found himself behind bars facing a $10,000 bond once it was discovered that he was in possession of burglary tools and had attempted to steal a pair of sunglasses from a local retailer.
Truth or Consequences Police Sgt. Erica Baker identifies the man as 22-year-old T.J. Bell in a criminal complaint filed in Sierra County Magistrate Court on Wednesday, Sept. 24.
Just before 6:45 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 23, Sgt. Baker entered a store on the north side of Truth or Consequences and states that she saw Mr. Bell in the jewelry department of the local retailer. Sgt. Baker describes seeing Bell with several pairs of sunglasses in his possession.
“Bell kept ducking down and I could not see what he was doing,” Baker states, adding that Mr. Bell eventually placed a single pair of sunglasses on his baseball cap that he was wearing and left the aisle.
After Mr. Bell made his way to the electronics department and made contact with Sgt. Baker, he left the electronics aisle.
Stg. Baker states that she then made contact with the store’s management and advised them that she believed Bell was preparing to steal some items from the store.
Moments later, Sgt. Baker reportedly located Mr. Bell crouching in the car stereo aisle. When Bell saw Baker, he reportedly asked her how she was doing and then advised her that he had a question regarding a computer item. Sgt. Baker advised the man to contact store personnel and observed the sunglasses on his hat with the price tag still present. Bell also reportedly had an empty plastic store bag hanging out of his pocket.
Sgt. Baker advised the man that store management had observed him on camera stealing merchandise, telling the man that he needed to accompany her to the front office.
Ultimately, Mr. Bell surrendered a key fob device used to unlock electronic devices at the store. Bell apparently had the device attached to a key chain he had in his pocket.
Bell also admitted that he had intended to steal the sunglasses located on his baseball cap.
Mr. Bell was transported to the Sierra County Detention Center, and was charged with a fourth-degree felony charge of being in possession of burglary tools and a criminal count of shoplifting.