Man arrested for trying to steal occupied car near campus

Staff report

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Michael Fitzroy Joseph, 24, was arrested early this morning and charged with attempted car theft after allegedly trying to steal an occupied car parked behind the Wawa near campus.

At about 12:10 a.m., three women arrived at the Wawa at 1614 W. University Avenue in the victim’s BMW and parked behind the store. Two of the women got out and went into the store, leaving one woman in the back seat with the doors unlocked. The woman who stayed in the car told a Gainesville Police Department that she saw a man, later identified as Joseph, standing near a building about 25 feet away. She said Joseph then approached the BMW and circled it several times, then opened the driver’s door and started to get in.

The woman asked Joseph what he was doing in her friend’s car, and she said he responded, “I recommend you get out because I’m gonna take this car.” She said he was reaching into the cup holder and appeared to be looking for the key to the car. Just then, the car’s owner and the other woman came out of the store and started yelling at Joseph and asking him what he was doing. They said he told them he was checking to see how much range was left in the car.

While the women were confronting Joseph, one of the women reportedly took a clear picture of him that showed his face and clothing. After he fled, the victim reported the incident to a GPD officer who was working overtime in uniform at the Wawa and gave him the photo of the suspect.

About two hours later, at 2:20 a.m., the officer saw Joseph enter Wawa, wearing the same clothing he was wearing in the photo. The officer detained him, handcuffed him, read him the Miranda warning, and asked if he knew why he was being arrested. Joseph reportedly replied that it might be because he was “intoxicated” in an establishment.

After the officer advised him that he was a suspect in an attempted car theft, Joseph reportedly denied ever being in the parking lot behind Wawa. The officer showed him the photo, and Joseph reportedly said it was a picture of him but that it had been taken in the front parking lot. The officer asked if Joseph had entered a vehicle thinking it was his, and Joseph reportedly said he hadn’t. The officer asked if Joseph had told a woman in the back seat of the car to get out because he was going to take it, and Joseph reportedly said he had not.

Joseph provided a Gainesville address but was identified via his Maryland driver’s license. He has no local criminal history. Bail information is unavailable on weekends.

Articles about arrests are based on reports from law enforcement agencies. The charges listed are taken from the arrest report and/or court records and are only accusations. All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. 

  • Poor Wawa seems to attract these troublemakers. I guess it’s the bling factor.

  • GPD working overtime in uniform at a convenience store. Why is GPD running late night security for a store that is known for their nationwide subpar clientele? Y’all can’t even handle local traffic.

    • This is approved ‘overtime’ which is during his time off. The officer is paid by Wawa. I think thye current rate is $62/hr or so. They are not on the GPD clock at this time. Not sure about benefits.

    • The patrol cars have to park somewhere, it may as well be where troublemakers like to refresh.

    • I doubt the city is paying that ‘overtime.’ I’m reasonably sure he is paid by Wawa.

  • Maybe if the Clown Commission would pay LEOs fairly and give them support they would have enough on staff NOT to have to pay OT. I don’t remember the self-serving commission voting to double the salaries of officers in recent history. I do remember them getting rid of the K-9 unit and reallocating funds to other departments.

    Hope everyone feels safe knowing that our safety depends on whether a cop wants an extra shift.

  • Cops have had the opportunity to work overtime as security for as long as I can remember. Always nice to have the opportunity to make extra income.

  • This is basically a brand new Wawa, right on the edge of civilization, so it attracts all the local crazies / GRACE Marketplace residents. Despite that, the store is always clean and the service is good. It would be a shame if the store closed from all these incidents.

  • Too bad the woman in the car was not carrying a gun. Could have ended all future crimes that dude will commit.

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