A man who allegedly grabbed two Iphones, then tried to parlay one of them into at least a partial payment on a truck, led deputies on a chase, then tried to swim his way to freedom and ended up in the Hendry County Jail October 21.
It all began about 9:50 a.m. Wednesday, October 21, when Carlos Eduardo Lopez, 33, entered the Boost Mobile store at 67 N. Bridge Street looking for an Iphone 6. He was wearing a blue Dickie’s shirt, khaki shorts and had a “scruffy” beard. When his credit card was not accepted, he asked the clerk to hold the phones till the end of the day. He returned at 11 a.m., this time wearing a black jacket over his shirt and sunglasses. He again tried to purchase the phones, saying he would put $1,200 on his credit card and pay cash for the rest. Again his card was denied. Lopez then snatched the phones from the clerk and ran out the door. The clerk followed and observed him get into a blue/green Malibu-type car. She reported it had a temporary tag and observed a partial license number.
Officers met with the owner of the store, who showed them surveillance footage of the incident and indicated that he wished to press charges. A witness in the store at the time of the incident corroborated the description of the robbery. Area patrols at the time turned up nothing.
At 4:40 p.m. the sheriff’s office received a call from a local auto establishment, indicating that they had accepted an Iphone temporarily as partial payment on a bill. The owner issued the man, a customer known to them as Carlos Lopez, a receipt for the phone till its ownership could be verified. Lopez had purchased a truck from them which was later impounded by the sheriff’s office apparently after an incident involving someone who had borrowed it from Lopez. The auto business, which still owned the truck, then had to tow it back to its property.
They soon found, via social media, that two phones had been stolen from the Boost Mobile store earlier that day and, thinking the phone they had accepted temporarily might be one of those, turned it in to the sheriff’s office.
After returning to the auto establishment several times, Lopez finally left in a tan colored Cadillac sedan with a temporary tag and headed north on SR 29.
Deputies Clifford Green and A. Campbell, who were in the parking lot of Las Gemelas on SR 29, heard the dispatch call and saw Lopez pass them traveling north. Deputy Campbell was unable to pull the Cadillac over and the chase continued across SR 80. It ended at Barron Library, where Lopez exited the vehicle and jumped into the river.
By that time, several sheriff’s deputies had pulled up and were visually tracking his movements. Sheriff Steve Whidden arrived and, along with Deputy B. Pascher, commandeered a private boat to apprehend Lopez.
Lopez was arrested and charged with Fraud – possession of a fictitious driver license, fraud – impersonating/misrepresenting himself, robbery sudden snatching, fleeing/eluding a law enforcement officer running lights and siren, moving traffic violation driving with a license suspended or revoked habitual offender, grand theft $300-$5,000 (the phones were valued at $699 each). He also received three citations for failure to stop at stop signs.
Patty Brant, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org