He was driving a stolen car with plates boosted from another car. What could go wrong?


A La Conner man was arrested late Saturday on car theft and other charges when a Bellingham Police officer noticed that the license plates on his car matched a stolen car report, officials said.

Joseph Gustave Whitefield, 36, was being held Monday in Whatcom County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to online jail records. He was booked about 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

Bellingham Police Lt. Danette Beckley said Whitefield had pulled his 1997 Honda Accord into the parking lot at the 7-Eleven store near Birchwood and Northwest avenues when an officer checked the license plate and learned that not only had the car been reported stolen — but the license plate itself had been taken from a different car.

"When Whitefield came back out (from the store), the officer attempted to contact him, at which time he fled on foot. The officer was able to catch up to Whitefield and detain him," Beckley said.

A search of the stolen car turned up two computers that Beckley said had been reported missing in the February 27 burglary of a PeaceHealth office. Location of the office was not given.

Whitefield was arrested for both second- and third-degree possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen vehicle, driving with a suspended license, obstructing a police officer, and on a state Department Corrections warrant.

According to court records, Whitefield has previous felony convictions for possession of stolen property, malicious mischief, assault on a law enforcement officer, and residential burglary.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty