Shoplifter busted after leading police on a high-speed chase

Photo for illustration purposes: Officers ended up apprehending the suspect and confiscating Legos he had already constructed.

Safford man’s stolen Legos confiscated

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – A simple shoplifting charge escalated quickly on July 27 when the suspect attempted to flee from police. 

Joseph Imrich, 21, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges including aggravated assault, unlawful flight from pursuing law enforcement, reckless driving, endangerment, and shoplifting. 

According to a Safford Police report, an officer was dispatched to Walmart at 755 S. 20th Ave. at about 8 p.m. regarding a shoplifting suspect attempting to steal toys. 

The suspect, later identified as Imrich, left the store after being confronted by store employees. As he entered a gray, Dodge Journey, an officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop and parked his marked police vehicle with emergency lights illuminated behind the suspect’s vehicle and got out to walk over to him. As the officer made his way to the driver’s side window, Imrich put the Journey into drive and took off, forcing the officer to make a quick decision to avoid being struck, according to his report. 

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: Joseph Imrich, 21, was booked into jail on multiple charges after leading officers on a high-speed chase during a shoplifting incident.

Safford officers and deputies with the Graham County Sheriff’s Office pursued Imrich as he sped from the area and he was seen committing several traffic violations. After Imrich ran a red light at 6th Avenue and Main Street, Safford Police made the decision to terminate the pursuit due to safety concerns. 

The officer then returned to Walmart and met with an asset protection employee, who showed video surveillance of Imrich stealing items earlier in the day and then attempting to steal an additional 24 items valued at about $230. The employee provided video footage of the Journey’s license plate number and soon the officer was at Imrich’s residence. 

During questioning, Imrich allegedly admitted to running from police after the Walmart shoplifting attempt and that he had stolen “three or four” Lego sets earlier in the day. The Lego sets were already taken out of their boxes and assembled and were confiscated by the police as evidence. Imrich was then taken to jail and booked on his above-listed charges.