Man tries to avoid jail by saying he has COVID-19; doesn’t work

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Joseph Lujan reportedly attempted to scare his way free by telling an officer that he was infected with COVID-19 to avoid being taken to jail. He was then booked on his warrant.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – A man with a warrant for his arrest tried to scare an officer out of busting him by telling him that he had the novel coronavirus COVID-19. It didn’t work. 

Joseph Lujan, 26, was arrested and booked into the Grhaham County Adult Detention Facility on Friday on a felony warrant relating to charges of theft and possession of drug paraphernalia. Lujan was later also charged with shoplifting on a new case. 

According to a Safford Police report, an officer was on patrol on U.S. Highway 70 at about 8 p.m. when he noticed Lujan riding a bicycle on the southern sidewalk of the highway. After receiving a notification that Lujan had an active warrant for his arrest, the officer turned around and contacted Lujan near the intersection of U.S. Highway 70 and 14th Avenue. 

After being taken into custody for the warrant, Lujan said he didn’t think anyone was being arrested at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He then allegedly told the officer that he could have the virus and that he had tested positive. After the officer advised Lujan that making a false report to an officer was a crime, Lujan recanted his statement and said he just didn’t want to go to jail. 

Upon searching Lujan, the officer located two sets of earphones still in their packaging. Lujan allegedly advised he retrieved the earphones from “someone’s backpack in the ghetto”. However, the officer responded to the nearest store, which was the Circle K at 1123 W. Thatcher Blvd., and reviewed security footage showing Lujan taking the earbuds from the store. 

Lujan, who had been in an interview with a detective on other matters, allegedly admitted to the detective that he had stolen the earbuds from the Circle K.

After being interrogated, Lujan was booked into the jail on his warrant and was later charged with the additional shoplifting violation. 

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