CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – When a group of Clearwater police officers hit the field at the Eddie C. Moore Soccer Complex on Monday night, they were there to have a good time. They had no idea they would end up working in an “undercover” capacity.
The game was in its third inning and the officers were up to bat. Several of them noticed a couple of teens hanging around the stands. It was unusual. The officers didn’t have that many spectators on a regular night and COVID-19 has reduced that even more.
Sgt. Thomas Dawe had no idea what was about to go down.
“At that point, half the team didn’t really know what was going on, the other team had no idea what was going on,” said Dawe. “I was actually standing in the batting circle, I was on deck and the scorekeeper, Lisa, basically started yelling out they stole the keys. They stole Mel’s keys.”
Mel is Mel Woodard, one of the game’s umpires. “I was out behind 2nd base and I saw the young lady standing next to the scorekeeper,” said Woodard. “And I had saw her run but had no idea she had taken my keys until the scorekeeper yelled.”
Investigators say the two teens were not spectators, they were car thieves looking for a quick score.
Corporal Jarred Stiff was also on the field. “I had turned and that’s when I saw Officer Richmond who had just passed me,” said Corporal Stiff. “Take off running towards the exit of the field. “
Officer Matthew Richmond was in hot pursuit. Not stealing bases, but about to stop a duo from stealing a car. “So I took off after her,” said Officer Richmond. “And I had Corporal Stiff and Sgt. Dawe behind me and we caught up to her… “
They caught up with the teenage girl and her accomplice and brought the two back to the dugout where they summoned for uniformed officers.
Woodard says he’s just pleased Clearwater’s finest were on the field.
“Otherwise, he might be doing a good bit of walking. I could call my wife and she would pick me up,” said Woodard. “But other than that I’d be doing a little walking.”
Sgt. Dawe wouldn’t release the names of the two teens because of their age, but he did reveal why they wanted that car so bad.
“They were somewhat stranded in Clearwater,” said Sgt. Dawe. “And they wanted to get down to South St. Pete.”