Would-Be Thieves Find Surprise in Car

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(Courtesy: Tempe Police Department)

By Steve Stout

TEMPE, Ariz. (KPHO) — Maybe it was the tinted windows, but two automobile burglary suspects had no idea they would get a rude surprise Saturday when they tried to break into an unmarked police vehicle – occupied by two uniformed Tempe police officers.

Paul Gardener allegedly opened the back door of the vehicle near Baseline Road and Butte Street and started to jump in when he noticed the seat was separated from the front by a cage and upon seeing the uniformed officers, came to the sobering realization he was in a police vehicle.

Gardener and Chad Leakey tried to run, but were quickly caught by the officers and arrested, a Tempe police spokesman said.

Evidence found on the two men linked them to another vehicle burglary and two attempted burglaries from vehicles in the same area.

According to the spokesman, Gardener also had a small bag of methamphetamine when he was arrested.

Leakey carried a backpack with several pieces of mail stolen earlier in the day, the spokesman said.

Both were booked into the Maricopa County Jail on one count of burglary and three counts of attempted burglary.

Gardner was also charged with possession of a dangerous drug.

The U.S. Postal Service was investigating the alleged mail theft, the spokesman said.

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