A 29-year-old Mesa man is in jail Thursday after police said he tried to return $100 in stolen clothing to a store for cash.
Police said Keith Ballard’s plan fell apart when the clerk he approached turned out to be the very woman from whom the items were stolen.
Samantha Schmidt, 22, was working Thursday at the Limited Too at Fiesta Mall when Ballard came in to exchange a bag of new clothing for cash.
Schmidt recognized the clothing as the items that were stolen along with her 1994 Saturn from the mall’s parking lot the day before.
Ballard was arrested on suspicion of vehicle burglary and trafficking in stolen property, said Mesa detective Tim Gaffney.
He was later booked into Maricopa County’s Madison Street Jail in Phoenix.
Ballard told officers he didn’t steal Schmidt’s car, which was found in another part of the mall parking lot, Gaffney said.
"He told them he reached in through the sun roof, opened a door and stole the bag of clothes from the Limited Too, the car’s title, a ring and a tin of jewelry," Gaffney said. "He said he was going to exchange the clothes for money for food."
The car’s title was found in Ballard’s pocket, Gaffney said.
Schmidt didn’t say much about the odd turn of events Friday, saying simply that she was relieved to get her stolen car and items back.
She even offered some sympathy:
"It’s Christmastime," Schmidt said. "I don’t want to embarrass him or his family."