by: Kevin McCarty Updated:
PUYALLUP, Wash. - A convicted sex offender has been charged with stealing a streetsweeper from a Puyallup storage yard and going on a midnight joy ride, ramming gates and even a building before finally being arrested.
Brock Watkins, 49, was taken into custody after midnight Monday. According to a probable cause affidavit filed in Pierce County superior court, he found a key to the sweeper hidden under a mat while prowling around Puyallup River Self Storage. Investigators said Watkins started up the engine and took off.
“I saw it drive right by, so I hurried up and ran after the guy," said Chuck Bowen, onsite manager at the storage lot.
Bowen said Watkins repeatedly spun the streetsweeper in circles before heading for a welded gate as Bowen hollered at him to stop.
“He turned around and yelled at me and he goes, 'Don’t mess with me, I’ll kill you,’ said Bowen. “So I hurried up and dove over here and then he drove through the fence.”
Bowen said Watkins rammed through the fence driving down River Road and then over a bridge crossing the Puyallup River. According to the charges, he headed west on Levee Road toward Fife, turning onto Frank Albert Road and ramming through the gate at a vacant sand a gravel lot.
Pierce County sheriff’s deputies, Fife police and Puyallup Tribal police arrived at the scene to find Watkins spinning the streetsweeper in circles. He was taken into custody at gunpoint after initially refusing to obey commands to surrender.
A law enforcement source said as he was arrested. Watkins told officers he hadn’t had that much fun in years. The damage estimates could top $10,000.
The streetsweeper’s owner said the damage to his property was extensive.
"Well, the machine is totaled,” Peterson said.
Watkins was convicted of child rape in 2003. Peterson called him a sociopath who put lives at risk by stealing the sweeper and driving down River Road.
“I’d like to know why the man is still out,” said Peterson.
Watkins was charged with burglary, theft of a motor vehicle and malicious mischief in the second degree on Wednesday. His bail was set at $100,000.