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Robbers arrested after pocket-dialing 911 during crime, police say

TheftCrime, Law and Justice

The robbers allegedly broke into a car, took what they wanted and drove away.

So they very well might have gotten away with the crime -- had it not been for pesky pocket dialing.

Fresno residents Carson Rinehart and Nathan Teklemariam, both 20 years old, were talking about their plan as they prepared to rob a vehicle on May 9, Fresno police officials said. About 11:30 p.m., a 911 dispatcher got a call from a cellphone, and after listening for about a minute, realized that the people on the other end planned to commit a crime, Fresno police Sgt. Jaime Rios said.

The dispatcher stayed on the line, and sent a patrol unit out to the location. Meanwhile, the dispatcher heard the suspects plot out what they would take from the vehicle. Later, the dispatcher heard glass break. And as the suspects attempted to get away, the dispatcher listened to the chatter about being chased by police, Rios said.

When officers finally confronted the suspects, Rios said they denied their involvement, and one lied about how he had cut his hand.

“The crooks were pretty shocked when the officer told them that they had essentially butt-dialed 911,” Rios said. “They had no clue.”

One of the embarrassed suspects even felt compelled to explain that his phone sometimes acted up. Rios said it was an officer who finally ended the minutes-long call, taking possession of the phone, and hanging it up.

Rinehart and Teklemariam were booked in Fresno County Jail on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and possession of stolen property. Rios said the pair stole prescription medications, socket keys and other miscellaneous items, adding that they could face jail time depending on their records.

“I don’t think something like this would go to trial based on the amount of evidence against them,”  Rios said.

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matt.stevens@latimes.com

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