Man charged in downtown thefts


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Iowa City police charged a man Sunday afternoon in downtown Iowa City after he allegedly stole several items and harassed restaurant patrons.

Todd Hulfish, 45, of Cedar Rapids was stopped by officers outside the MidWestOne Bank, 102 S. Clinton St., and charged at approximately 3:23 p.m., police records show.

In all, four Iowa City police cars stopped on the corner near the Iowa City Jazz Festival’s Culinary Row.

According to Iowa City police daily activity log, Hulfish was charged with third-degree theft and interference with official acts after he reportedly stole a mug from Whitey’s Ice Cream, 112 E. Washington St., and a towel from Bo-James, 118 E. Washington St.

More than a half a dozen officers were on the scene as of 4 p.m., when officers escorted him into a squad car headed to the Johnson County Jail.

In addition to the two items, Hulfish allegedly stole additional items from other stores, the log said.

A Whitey’s manager who was working during the time of the altercation and wished to remain anonymous said Hulfish originally entered the shop asking for several trash bags.

“It was just really bizarre,” the manager said.

Although she was unable to identify the approximate time of Hulfish’s arrival, she said he approached store employees, asking for the trash bags while carrying several unidentified items with him into the store.

Officers confiscated two large black garbage bags full of miscellaneous, allegedly stolen items before placing them in the trunk of a squad car.

The Whitey’s manager said she believed the Iowa City police used pepper spray on Hulfish after he returned to the store for a second time.

Upon leaving the shop, she said, he made his way to Bo-James, where he allegedly stole a towel, picked up a bottle of ketchup, and harassed patrons.

She said she was told by a Bo-James employee that several customers asked Bo-James employees if they could be moved inside the restaurant, away from Hulfish.

Jeff Maves, the head of security for the Iowa Arts Festival and fellow security guard James Sandifer directed all comments and information to Iowa City police, but they said Iowa City police officers arrived on the scene at the same time as he and Maves had.

Before arresting Hulfish, officers poured several bottles of water over a small cut on his head.

Hulfish showed having trouble opening his eyes and repeatedly said to one Iowa City officer, “Come on, boss.”

A local university professor, who wished to remain anonymous and declined to identify her specific place of employment, said she watched the situation unfold from the interesection of Clinton and Washington Streets. She said she believed Iowa City police officers had handled the situation poorly, adding that the incident may be more related to mental illness than theft.

Iowa City police Sgt. Vicki Lalla was unable to be reached for comment as of Sunday evening regarding the treatment of Hulfish’s conditions by Iowa City police officers. A late-night call officer declined to comment on the police treatment of Hulfish, the process of the incident, or Hulfish’s condition but did confirm Hulfish matched the activity log’s charges.

Leah Cohen, the owner of Bo-James, said she was unaware of the incident until Sunday evening, because she was out of the state.

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