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Tempe police: Officer resigns after admitting to theft

The Republic |
BYLINE: Maria Polletta
Link to Article

Tempe, AZ

A Tempe police officer has resigned after more than seven years with the department after admitting to having stolen police property and cash, according to the Tempe Police Department.

Former patrol officer Aaron Smith was taken into custody Saturday morning near Dobson Road and Southern Avenue after a month-long internal investigation, according to Tempe Police spokesman Lt. Mike Horn. He faces charges of theft, burglary and tampering with physical evidence, Horn said.

Police supervisors had begun receiving reports of missing items -- including two police bicycles, an equipment case, and money -- in early July. On July 20, about $750 reportedly disappeared from a petty-cash lock box.

Smith had access to the areas where the property disappeared, and his swing-shift hours matched up with when the items went missing, Horn said.

On July 26, an undercover detective gave a purse with $142 in it to Smith, describing it as "found property." By the end of the workweek, Smith still hadn't impounded or processed the money, Horn said.

Tempe detectives found the stolen bikes and purse when they served search warrants at Smith's home, vehicles and work locker Saturday.

Following the arrest, Smith admitted to stealing the property and the roughly $1,000 in cash, saying he was under extreme financial hardship, according to Horn. He had reportedly given the bicycles to his children as gifts.

Police believe Smith acted alone.

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