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December 2011 Archives

Top 5 Phoenix Crime Stories of 2011

We've covered a lot of crime in the Phoenix area since the start of 2011. Looking back, Phoenix has had its share of serious offenses and wacky criminal activity. Here are our picks for the top 5 crime stories that shocked Phoenix residents in 2011:

Hoarding and Animal Cruelty Laws: When Having Pets Becomes Illegal

The subject of animal hoarding has produced a hit show for TV network Animal Planet entitled "Confessions: Animal Hoarding." But it is a serious condition that can have legal consequences if taken too far.

Take, for example, a Scottsdale woman who could be facing animal neglect charges for housing 27 small dogs and several reptiles in her home, according to azfamily.com.

Man Arrested for Voyeurism for Taping Ex-Girlfriend Having Sex

If police allegations are true, a Gilbert man took creepiness to a whole other level when he sneaked onto his ex-girlfriend's property to tape her having sex with another man.

Forty-one-year-old Troy Puetz was arrested on suspicion of misdemeanor criminal trespassing and felony voyeurism for his alleged peeping-tom ways, reports The Arizona Republic.

Mesa police said they initially investigated Puetz after a homeowner reported that he was watching a pornographic video on a laptop inside his car. Police say Puetz allowed them to search his vehicle, which is how they found the video camera. He became resistant when they tried to play the tape, however.

DOJ: Sheriff Joe Routinely Violated Civil Rights Laws

Another month, another Sheriff-Joe-Arpaio-in-legal-hot-water report.

This time it's the feds who are accusing Sheriff Joe of breaking the law. The Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division has concluded its investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office and reportedly found that Sheriff Joe and his office violated several civil rights laws, reports CNN.

Santa Background Checks: Make Sure They've Been Nice

To your children, Santa Claus is the big man who decides which little boys and girls have been naughty or nice. However, it’s the duty of employers of mall Santas to make sure they haven’t done anything naughty before meeting your children.

Background checks are typically an important hiring tool that helps employers hire the best applicant and fend off future lawsuits. It’s especially important to conduct a background check on anyone whose job requires contact with children, even if it’s Santa Claus or his elves.

At minimum, the employer of a Santa Claus impersonator should conduct a criminal background check in all counties where he has lived and a Sex Offender Registry, according to Toolbox.com.

Teen Arrested for Murder in Strip Mall Shooting of Alen Belford, 17

It has been more than a year since 17-year-old Alen Belford was struck and killed in the crossfire of an alleged gang shooting outside a Phoenix strip mall. Now, another teenager has been arrested in connection with Belford's death and faces second-degree murder charges, reports KPHO.

Eighteen-year-old Devonte Mitchell was booked into jail at the end of November on suspicion of murder, aggravated assault, discharging a firearm at a structure, and threatening and intimidating.

The arrest was a result of over-a-year's worth of investigation by Phoenix police officers, collecting witness statements and physical evidence. Another suspect may also be arrested in the near future, according to police.

Tucson Woman, Boyfriend Indicted for Theft, Fraud of Elderly Woman

A Tucson woman and her boyfriend are accused of taking advantage of a bedridden multiple-sclerosis patient who later died, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

The woman, Lea Marie Hughes, is already in jail for vulnerable adult abuse of 64-year-old Ruthann Jacox. Hughes and her boyfriend, Gilbert Pierre Peralta Jr., were indicted on additional charges of fraud and theft on Thursday.

Outstanding Warrant? Phoenix Police Offer NOWcU

Holiday giving is starting early this year courtesy of the Phoenix Police Department. Through operation "New Opportunity Warrant Clear Up" (Project NOWcU), suspects who have outstanding misdemeanor warrants out for their arrests can take care of them this week without additional consequences, reports azfamily.com.

Run in partnership with the Phoenix Municipal Court from Dec. 5-9, the program offers you the chance to: "Clear your warrant. Clear your conscience. Clear your mind."

Mesa Woman Stabs Husband for Too Many Female Facebook Friends?

Facebook has been accused of a lot of stuff, including causing 20 percent of marriages to fail. In the case of Mesa woman Brenda S. Batista, the social networking site is being blamed for her knife-wielding attack on her husband.

Batista allegedly stabbed her husband in the arm for friending women on Facebook and using online dating services, reports The Arizona Republic.

Mesa police arrested Batista last Tuesday. She reportedly didn't put up a fight when police arrived at her home, allegedly telling officers: "Take me to jail, I stabbed him."

Tucson Man Put Hit on Hitmen for Not Killing Girl's Parents?

In a bizarre case of too many hired helpers, a Tucson man allegedly hired hitmen to kill a 15-year-old girl’s parents and then put a hit on the hitmen when they later refused, reports the Arizona Daily Star.

Ronald Olea Zebal is currently being held in the Pima County jail on four counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

If suspected of a criminal conspiracy, a person may be charged with and convicted of both the conspiracy to commit the crime as well as the underlying crime itself. In addition, taking the time to find and hire hitmen to do the deed shows premeditation, which likely led to the conspiracy to commit first-degree murder charge.

Beware Craigslist Sales: Public Exchange Almost Ends in Armed Robbery

Craigslist is arguably one of the most popular modern-day methods of selling and buying goods online, but the ability to score a good deal with strangers can make you vulnerable to various crimes. One Arizona man opened up about a recent Craigslist-sale gone wrong in the hope of preventing it from happening again, reports myFoxPhoenix.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, set up a meeting to buy an Apple MacBook from the suspect. Before agreeing to meet the seller, however, he took all of the right precautions - arranged to meet at a public place, chose the location himself, and picked a time during broad daylight.