Location: Los Angeles, California
Date: May 19, 1989
At 1:30am on May 19, 1989, Los Angeles Police Dispatcher Pam Graves answered a call for help unlike any she had ever taken. "I broke into a glass shop and I can't get out," said the caller. "There's too much glass in my way in the doorway. I know I shouldn't be here. I'll turn myself in. If I step over this glass it'll cut me very seriously."
Yeah, right, thought Graves, a burglar calling to turn himself in. She was fairly sure the call was a prank, but she took the man's address and told him she'd send someone over. "It won't take long, will it?" he asked Graves nervously. "I hope not," she responded.
The unlucky caller had in fact broken into a glass company. He had smashed the glass door with a shovel, climbed inside, and looked around for something to steal. Finding nothing, he went out the back door, only to encounter two snarling rottweilers guarding the company's property. He ran back inside and slammed the back door shut. But he was afraid to crawl out the way he'd come in because he'd broken a two-foot-diameter hole in the glass door, which was now a ring of sharp, deadly shards. Feeling trapped, the burglar called 911 for help. He told the dispatcher he was unarmed.
When Officer Bob Barnes and his partner first got the call, they looked at each other and said it must be a mistake. As they headed to the scene, they wondered if it could be a setup or an ambush, even though it appeared the suspect had made the call.
Sergeant Mark Mooring also responded with his partner, police dog Sergeant Joe Friday. "The danger in this call is that it didn't make any sense," recalls Sergeant Mooring. "Suspects don't call you and tell you where they are. He might be a psycho, and if that's the case, we're gonna need some extra people."
Officer Barnes and his partner were the first to arrive, followed by a police helicopter that circled to spotlight the area. Sergeant Mooring and the K-9 unit also arrived, as well as four additional backup units. It was tactically a bad situation for the officers because they couldn't see anything through the windows. They had no idea what to expect.
Officers surrounded the property, then approached the building. Sergeant Joe Friday, the police dog, was sent up to the hole in the glass door. He immediately smelled the suspect and began to bark and growl loudly. "Keep the dog away from me! Keep the dog away!" yelled the suspect from inside, evidently quite frightened of dogs. The burglar surrendered to police and thanked them for getting him out of the building.
"This was definitely one of the easiest felony arrests I've ever had," says Mooring. "It doesn't take a lot of brains to be a burglar, but this guy had none." The suspect pled guilty to vandalism and tresspassing and was sentenced to two years probation and 150 hours of community service. "The suspect had to be rescued from a situation he created himself--from a crime," laughs Mooring. "I like that. That's a good ending."