There was no hint of the events that lay ahead when Buena Park police detectives Chuck Presley and Cory Sianez set out Monday on what looked like a routine trip to Anaheim.
They had received a tip that some items stolen from a Sears repair center--an air compressor, a videotape recorder and a lawn edger--might be found at a house on Glenoaks Avenue.
As they drove by the house, they spotted two men unloading a lawn edger from a car. The officers stopped to check it out.
According to Presley, his partner took one of the men aside and Presley took the other. Presley showed his man his badge and was about to ask about the edger when the man blurted: "Oh boy, am I in trouble!" He then spread-eagled himself against the car, ready to be searched.
"I figured he had to have done something wrong," Presley said. So he searched him and found wads of cash in one pocket.
"What did you do?" Presley asked.
"The car's stolen, and I stole it," Presley quoted the man as saying.
Presley said a radio check showed the car had been stolen May 15 in West Los Angeles, so Presley handcuffed the man and called for a tow truck. The two waited, and as they did another question grew in Presley's mind.
"What's the money for, to buy drugs?" he asked the man.
"No, I just robbed the Downey Savings & Loan down by the freeway," Presley quoted the man as saying.
"That," cracked Presley, "is called interrogation technique."
Presley said he got on the radio and sent a query to police in Fountain Valley, where the savings and loan branch is located. Yes, Fountain Valley reported, that branch had been robbed about 30 minutes earlier. How did Buena Park know? No description had been broadcast yet.
What was the description? The robber had a four-inch revolver, dark glasses and a yellow bandanna over his face.
Presley said he glanced into the stolen car and saw a four-inch toy revolver, dark glasses and a yellow bandanna on the front seat. He also found more money, bringing the total to $3,489, he said.
Michael Bruce Young, 38, of the City of Commerce, was arrested on suspicion of bank robbery and taken to Buena Park police headquarters, police spokesman Terry Branum said. A check of Young's criminal record showed bank robbery arrests extending back to 1973, Branum said.
Presley said that as soon as Young was seated in the police station he asked that someone notify the FBI. "He said he'd done a lot more and wanted to tell them about it," Presley said. Young said he had robbed about six other banks around Orange County, according to Presley.
"I've never had an easier cop-out," Presley said. "Somebody cops out before you know it happened; that's different."
According to Presley, Young said he had only just arrived at the house from the bank robbery when Presley came up to him and flashed a badge.
"He told me he honestly felt he'd been set up," Presley said. "One of the guys over there knew he was going off to rob a bank, and he was certain he'd been set up. He's only 50% convinced now that he wasn't."
Oh yes: The edger that was being unloaded was not the stolen edger, Presley said. But the stolen edger and the stolen air compressor were in the garage, he said, and were seized for return to Sears.
Presley said Young is not accused of the Sears theft. The man Presley believes was responsible for that has already been sent back to prison for a probation violation.
Just another day on the beat.