Motel's new owner helps officers catch alleged thief
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Arwyn Rice/Peninsula Daily News
Anthony Joshua Freitas, 25, of Port Angeles is arrested Monday in Port Angeles. From left are Clallam County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Backes, Port Angeles Police Officer Erik Smith, Deputy Chief Brian Smith, Freitas and State Patrol Trooper Travis Beebe.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — The new owner of the Chinook Motel assisted in the capture of a suspected thief Monday morning, slowing a fleeing Port Angeles man allegedly flashing stolen money long enough for a law enforcement team to capture him a block away.

Anthony Joshua Freitas, 23, was taken into custody by law enforcement officers after they spotted him sitting in a puddle between the wheels of an antique tractor parked at 1404 E. Front St., said Brian Smith, deputy chief of the Port Angeles Police Department.

The incident began at about 11:30 a.m. Monday inside the Fresh Wok restaurant, 1603 E. Front St., when a man matching Freitas' description took money from the restaurant's cash register, Smith said.

“He grabbed the cash and fled on foot,” he said.

Freitas reportedly was chased by the owner of the restaurant toward the former Chinook Motel, 1414 E. First St., where owner Balbir Singh was working with a crew to renovate the aged motel and covert it to a newly named Holiday Lodge.

Singh said he spotted the chase, saw cash in the young man's hands and attempted to detain him by stepping into his path.

“I told him to sit, and he did,” Singh said.

The younger man seemed tired from fleeing the restaurant owner, Singh said.

He told Singh that he had dumped the cash in bushes along the chase route, and when he regained his breath he got up, ran across Front Street and disappeared between buildings, Singh said.

Construction workers from the motel renovation project arrived just in time to see the runner disappear and directed police in the direction.

Police captured Freitas a few minutes later on East Front Street, sitting in water between the rear wheels of a gray antique tractor, trapped between Deputy Police Chief Smith and Sheriff's Deputy Michael Backes, who stood on either side of the tractor, Smith said.

“I could see his feet under the tractor,” Smith said.

Officers handcuffed a tearful Freitas and put his belongings into the back of a police car.

State Patrol Trooper Travis Beebe and two Port Angeles police officers were also on scene to assist with the arrest.

Freitas initially gave the police a false name, claiming to be “Jonnie Dan” Freitas, age 25, but police were able to establish his identity as Anthony Joshua Freitas, two years younger, at the police station, Smith said.

Freitas remained in Clallam County jail Monday afternoon for investigation of felony robbery, obstruction, for giving police a false name and possibly of burglary.

The amount of cash missing from the restaurant's cash register was not yet established, Smith said.

Police also were looking into Freitas' possible involvement in similar crimes that have taken place in the area.

“We're working on any other unsolved grab-and-run robbery cases, but we aren't jumping to any conclusions,” Smith said.

Singh closed the sale of the 53-room Chinook Motel near the intersection of First and Ennis streets in January, purchasing the 1950s-era motel for $700,000 through his company, Holiday Lodge LLC.

He continues to work with a renovation crew to restore it and have it open in time for the summer tourist season, he said.



Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 04. 2013 6:24PM
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