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Sheriff arrests student for alleged theft

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Laptop bandit hides dagger in waist, stolen credit cards in wallet

When Pierce College Security Officer Jim Brown searched 23-year-old Shaeyla Ward on suspicion of stealing a laptop, he also found a 3-inch “dagger” on her person and 12 credit and identification cards in her wallet.

Ward was arrested on Nov. 24 after a student reported to the Sheriffs that he saw a black female, who matched the student’s description, walking away from the Library / Learning Center with his Hewlett-Packard Co. notebook and notebook-case around 3:30 p.m. The notebook-case had a red Swiss Army logo on it, which helped him identify it.

“A student came up to reference and said his laptop and case were taken,” said department chair of library science Paula Paggi. “He turned his back to shelve some books. It was in a study cubby, and it was gone. He knew what the person looked like, so we told him to go to the sheriff to report the incident.”

Security Officer Brown noticed a person who matched the description and a case with a red Swiss Army logo when he was patrolling the area at Mason Ave.

But when Brown patted down the suspect, who turned out to be Ward, he found much more than the notebook and notebook-case.

Ward had a 3-inch dagger with a red handle under the waistband of her pants, according to the incident report. Ward said she carried the dagger for her own protection, and was unaware that it was illegal.

Brown also had nine credit cards, one Pierce student identification card, one transit access pass and one medical insurance card that did not have Ward’s name on them.

Ward admitted that she stole the laptop, but told Sheriff’s Deputy Barreras that she found the credit and identification cards on school grounds in a clear, plastic container.

But when L.A. Sheriff’s Sgt. Alex Vaziri asked her a follow-up question later, Ward said she found the cards in a grey bag on a bus.

The discrepancies between Ward’s statements prompted Barreras to contact the Pierce Sheriff’s to find out if they had any similar incidents reported, and they did.

On Oct. 22, two days before Ward’s arrest, a woman reported that her purse was stolen from the Library / Learning Center when she left it unattended while she was in the bathroom.

But Ward told Vaziri that she had the credit cards in her possession for two weeks.

“[They were] probably stolen, but I didn’t steal them,” Ward said. “[But] I thought they might be.”

Ward was charged with possession of stolen property, possession of a dirk/dagger, and petty theft. She was booked at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff station.

“I’ve left my backpack here in the library before,” journalism major Fatima Marroquin said. “I just ran quickly to the restroom. I didn’t have anything important in it just notebooks, but you never know what might happen.”

The notebook and notebook-case were returned to the student, and the credit and identification cards were returned to the woman whose purse was stolen.

“I just have sticky fingers,” Ward said during questioning.