It was a normal day at the grocery store for off-duty cop Dan Tosches when he noticed a peculiar looking fellow staring at a bunch of pineapples near the exit.
“I know this isn’t happening,” Tosches said, recalling his thoughts at the time. A Darien cop for more than two decades, Tosches sensed something was askew. He paused from searching for a movie on Redbox to watch this man, who “was looking everywhere but at the pineapples.”
In the man’s shopping cart was a bunch of cases of beer and a pile of steaks, Tosches said. Then without hesitation, the man casually walked through the Stamford Stop & Shop doors without paying.
“I yelled to the girl, ‘You better call your manager. I’m an off duty cop and you got somebody walking out the door with half your store,’” Tosches said.
The manager came over and the two left the store, and saw the shoplifter almost to the end of the parking lot. They jogged toward the man, hoping they wouldn’t spook him into running, but also wanting to get there before he drove away.
With no weapon and no handcuffs, Tosches, who is now a special constable with Tokeneke Patrol, thought to himself how he was going to detain this guy until more police arrived. Then another man emerged from the car and began to unload the ephemeral booty.
As they arrive to the car, a third man emerges. “I said, ‘Oh well, I might as well pick the biggest one,’” Tosches said. He showed the men his wallet, badge and I.D., then quickly grabbed one of them and bent him over hood of the car to hold him there.
“The guy who took the shopping cart bolted like a rabbit,” Tosches said. The manager then tried to grab the third guy, who threw a few punches at the manager. The manager ripped the guy’s shirt off just before the shoplifter bolted after his fleeing friend.
Stamford Police eventually showed up with four patrol cars. Tosches gave them a description of the two men, and within five minutes the men were caught. Tosches later identified them.
All three had taken turns walking out of the Stop & Shop store with groceries. Tosches said the amount was around $1,100 worth of goods. The store manager told Tosches that Stop & Shop has been getting hit by shoplifters from Bridgeport to Portchester, N.Y.
Stamford Police arrested Bridgeport residents Dwayne Brown and William Mayo, along with Wesley McClain, who has no known address. The men were charged with fourth-degree larceny, third-degree robbery, third-degree assault, fourth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, third-degree conspiracy to commit robbery and third-degree conspiracy to commit assault.
Tosches, who was born and raised in Stamford, has a knack for snatching up criminals in the act. He helped catch the serial flasher who had been terrorizing Darien women for a while in 2005.
“I tend to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Tosches said. Stop & Shop would probably appreciate what Tosches considers bad timing.