Suspect in elections center theft accused of stealing from Phoenix Art Museum

Jul 3, 2024, 1:00 PM

PHOENIX – The man accused of stealing from the Maricopa County elections center and state Senate building also is suspected in a Phoenix Art Museum theft.

Walter Ringfield Jr., 27, already in custody for the other incidents, was processed for the museum theft last week, according to court documents. He is not eligible for bond because he was on release as part of a felony diversion program in a 2023 case.

Ringfield allegedly took $9,500 worth of jewelry from the Phoenix Art Museum on May 20.

The jewelry items were being used as accessories on mannequins that were part of an exhibit at the museum near Central Avenue and McDowell Road, according to the probable cause statement for Ringfield’s arrest.

A security guard noticed the items were missing two days later.

How was Phoenix Art Museum theft suspect identified?

Museum staff found surveillance footage showing a man later identified as Ringfield putting the jewelry in his pockets before driving away in a gray Acura sedan, according to the arrest report.

The Phoenix Police Department used the footage to create a bulletin about the case. After news spread of Ringfield’s arrest in the elections center theft case, a police research analyst recognized him from the museum theft bulletin.

Police then confirmed that a car linked to the museum theft was registered to Ringfield.

On top of that, he appeared to be wearing a pocket watch stolen from the museum in surveillance video from the June elections center theft.

Phoenix Police officers interviewed Ringfield on Friday before processing him for the museum theft, according to the arrest form.

What other crimes are connected to Walter Ringfield Jr.?

Ringfield has been in custody since June 21, when he was booked into jail on counts of theft and criminal damage for allegedly stealing a digital security key from the Maricopa County Tabulation and Elections Center (MCTEC) in Phoenix a day earlier.

At the time, he was working as a temporary elections employee.

The digital key, or fob, is part of the process to turn on the ballot-counting machines on Election Day. It was deactivated after officials learned it had been taken out of MCTEC, and the machines were reprogrammed at an estimated cost of $20,000, officials said.

Maricopa County Sheriff Russ Skinner said last week there were no indications the theft was politically motivated or that anybody else was involved.

Ringfield’s legal trouble deepened once he was in jail. He was also identified as the suspect in a theft from the Arizona Senate building on June 19, a day before the MCTEC incident.

He is accused of removing challenge coins and desk accessories from a Senate staff member’s desk.

Items from the Senate and MCTEC thefts were located at Ringfield’s Phoenix residence, authorities said.

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Suspect in elections center theft accused of stealing from Phoenix Art Museum