Police have issued an all-points bulletin for an alleged con artist who escaped from jail here by telephoning the California Department of Corrections and authorizing his own release.
David Maurice Smith, 29, of Los Angeles didn't need a gun or key to get out of his Los Angeles cell after his arrest Tuesday night on suspicion of grand theft. Instead, police said, he used an officer's badge number and a telephone.The caper left officers marveling at how easily Smith got out and promising not to let it happen again.
"I've never seen anybody get out (that way) before. I was shocked," said Detective Woodrow Parks, who is handling the case. Parks said he has been told that future releases will have to be reconfirmed by supervisors "at the very least."
When Smith was arrested, his rec-ord showed him to be on parole for grand theft. At 9:39 p.m., the state Department of Corrections sent Los Angeles police a message denying Smith's request to post bail. That is when Smith asked to use a phone.
Smith called the agency and identified himself as the officer whose badge number he had learned, Parks said.
According to investigators, Smith convinced a parole official that there had been an error, a case of mistaken identity. He said that the David Smith police had arrested was not David Smith, the parolee.
The release order arrived within 20 minutes.
Smith posted $1,500 bail and was gone.
Smith will not forfeit his bail bond unless he fails to show up for his Jan. 25 arraignment in Los Angeles. But he now faces escape charges on top of the grand theft arrest that landed him in jail.
Police say his Tuesday arrest was the result of a con attempt that did not work as well as his escape.