It wasn't just residents who helped Salt Lake County sheriff's deputies catch a robber who assaulted a Smith's clerk recently.
The crime busters got some help from the criminal himself.After drawing attention to himself - standing near the store's exit with a red shopping basket full of cigarettes "and acting nervous, looking around at nothing in particular" - the thief attacked the female clerk who asked him if he had a receipt.
Specifically, he punched her in the arm, dropped the basket and ran from the store through the parking lot, according to a sheriff's report.
Another shopper told deputies she knew which car the suspect had been driving. She took deputies to the vehicle, which was still in the parking lot - unlocked.
Before opening the car door, deputies saw a yellow shopping basket in the back seat. After opening the car, deputies discovered a wallet, which contained the driver's license - complete with a photo of the man the clerk said assaulted her. Lying nearby was a citation for retail theft from Murray police.
Deputies then found a storage compartment in the car and discovered 19 packs of cigarettes. With the loot was a list of businesses that were "good to steal cigarettes from."
While deputies waited for the arrival of supervisor, they noticed a man standing at the 7-Eleven across the street who looked an awful lot like the guy in the driver's license photo. They confronted the man who waived his right to an attorney and 'fessed up to being the cigarette thief. He told deputies he'd "had time to think about the situation" and returned to the scene of the crime to be arrested.
The man now faces a second degree felony (and a possible 15 years in prison) for robbery because of the assault, instead of misdemeanor for shoplifting.