BELLINGHAM - A Bellingham teen with a warrant for armed robbery was arrested this weekend prowling cars while wearing a red-and-white Santa hat, according to police.
Two young men were spotted stealing a wristwatch from a parked car around 10:20 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, in the 600 block of West Bakerview Road. A witness followed the men while on the line with 911 dispatchers, said police Sgt. Jason Monson. One thief ditched some stolen property into a waiting car, which then fled the area. The two men split up and ran off.
Police couldn't find the car but caught up to one suspect, Joseph M. Hahs, 22, on foot nearby, out of breath. The Santa Claus impersonator, identified as Leevi Allen Rosso, 18, boarded a Whatcom Transportation Authority bus. But police eventually arrested him, too, thanks in part to the conspicuous long red cap on his head.
Hahs and Rosso had some property on them - possibly stolen, Monson said - that was impounded as evidence: a Dell Inspiron laptop, several house keys, a knife, a backpack, a cellphone and loose change.
Less than 24 hours before the arrest, Rosso had written on his Facebook page: "MetH and money modivated" (sic).
Police believe Rosso and two friends robbed a 16-year-old boy in November, according to police. Rosso confronted the boy around 10:25 p.m. Nov. 16 in the 2000 block of Texas Street, demanding the boy's Portland Trail Blazers cap and his iPhone, Monson said. According to the victim, Rosso lifted his shirt to reveal a black semiautomatic pistol in his waistband.
The boy reported the robbery five hours later. He told police he recognized Rosso from middle school but didn't know the teen boy and teen girl with him. The boy was described as white, about 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, with a shaved head, a red hoodie and a red bandana. The girl looked 16 or 17 years old. She had blond hair, a red hoodie and blue pants.