With the help of an iPhone recovery app, St. Louis police officers were fairly certain they had the right suspect when they located Steven Payne, 61, in his Cates Avenue apartment over the weekend.
But while questioning him, officer Benjamin Bayless tried a clever, simple trick just to be sure: Dialing the number for the stolen phone. It rang inside the apartment.
At that point, it was pretty clear!
The clumsiness of the suspect was not, however, the strangest part of this robbery. A probable-cause statement, on view below, says that Payne actually sneaked into a hotel room and stole a bunch of stuff...while the guests were sleeping.
Police, according to the statement, received a call for a burglary Sunday morning, and two victims reported that they woke up and their phones, two credit cards and $80 in cash was missing from their downtown hotel room (which is not identified in the report).
"They also informed us that the door to their hotel room did not shut properly but that both of them were in the hotel room between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. when the items must have been stolen," the report says.
A Discover credit card belonging to one of the victims was reportedly used at two downtown locations for coffee and groceries. "Video surveillance from both locations shows the defendant leaving both stores seconds after each purchase was made," the report says.
The card was also used at a location in the Central West End but was rejected.
Cops say they used a "findmyiphone" application to track one of the stolen phones straight to the defendant's apartment near Washington University's north campus. When they arrived, they saw that the suspect's appearance matched the images of the individual leaving the businesses earlier.
"I began to speak with the defendant regarding the suspected thefts and at that time, I called one of the stolen phones. It was in the defendant's apartment and began to ring. Both phones were recovered from the defendant's home, and the missing credit cards and cash were found on the defendant's person," the statement continues.
The suspect agreed to give a recorded statement, in which he admitted entering a hotel room that didn't have a properly closed door and "seeing people sleeping" and taking the two phones, cash and credit cards.
He also admitted that he tried to use the cards, the report says.
Payne has a lengthy criminal history, including forgery, escape from confinement, trespassing, stealing, burglary and more.
Payne does not yet have an attorney listed in court records.
Here's the full statement.