IAH officers hit the dumpster, dump ground to retrieve purse and $12,000 ring for victim

Tom Kennedy

Two officers at Bush Intercontinental Airport may have set a standard for doing a very dirty police job – a successful garbage-infested effort that retrieved a $12,000 wedding ring and several hundred dollars in cash for a victim.

It all happened on Aug. 24, as recounted by Sgt. Bridget Lummus at the HPOU’s October general membership meeting which bestowed Investigator of the Month honors to Officers Allan Wallace and Eleazar Lopez. The scene, of course, was the passenger terminal at Intercontinental.

An Army war veteran and his wife arrived at the airport and, while walking through the terminal, experienced seeing their service dog having an accident.

“While cleaning it up,” Lummus recounted, “the complainant set her purse on a nearby table in the food court. Once the area was cleaned, they both walked off and mistakenly left the purse on the table.”

The purse contained credit cards, a cell phone, $260 in cash, passports, identifications and the $12,000 wedding ring.

“Soon after they left a cleaning is seen on camera collecting trash nearby and she quickly picks up the purse and tosses it in her garbage can,” Lummus said.

The next day Wallace and Lopez question the cleaning contract woman, who said she was angry at the dog having the accident, picked up the purse and threw it away.

Then came the fun part.

“Without hesitation, both officers placed on their gloves and jumped into about five tons of compacted trash,” Lummus said. “They continued to search for about two hours. The suspect stood by the entire time.

“There is no doubt they went over and beyond the call of duty.”

Wallace said, “In my 30 years, I’ve never done anything so disgusting.” Both officers had to trash their boots and get new uniforms due to the ever-lingering stench.

The story doesn’t end. The persistence of Wallace and Lopez intensified.

They failed to locate the purse and undertook the next phase of the trashy operation. They followed five dump trucks to the dump ground – the proverbial haystack that possibly contained the purse.

“The purse and contents were FOUND in a trash bag,” Lummus said. “All except the cash and the wedding ring!”

Wallace and Lopez picked up the cleaning woman and questioned her diligently.

“Due to the great interrogation skills and Spanish translations, the suspect broke down and confessed to having the articles,” the sergeant said. “She agreed to retrieve the items at her apartment.”

The woman was charged with felony theft and the property was returned to its rightful owner who had been stranded in Houston throughout the ordeal.

“Due to Officers Wallace and Lopez’s determination and persistence, and definitely NO FEAR of getting dirty, this thief was arrested and she will no longer be able to obtain a job within the Houston Airport System,” Lummus said.

“Job well done and please wash your hands!”