Alert Tulsa Officer Receives Award

Friday, March 6th 2009, 6:30 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa Police Department will honors the best in blue Friday night at its awards banquet.

One award will go to the officers who stopped organized crime in its tracks.

When Officer Joel Spitler ran to Best Buy last January on his day off, he had no idea he was about to encounter an international organized crime gang.

He saw a man trying to buy a computer and $2,000 in gift cards with a credit card that wouldn't go through.

When the man took off running, Officer Spitler also took off and a mile later, Wen Zou was in handcuffs.

When other officers arrived, they realized something bigger could be going down. Other officers stopped an SUV with three of Zou's friends in it, and the investigation kicked into high gear.

Police went to the men's hotel room and found suitcases stuffed with $60,000 in cash.

"This is in addition to the $13,000 in cash we recovered Wednesday evening when we first contacted them and the recovery of about $20,000 worth of merchandise that had been fraudulently obtained," Tulsa Police Officer Anthony First said.

The men flew into the U.S., landed at Oklahoma City and drove to Tulsa with a map that had every casino circled.

They hit the Cherokee Casino with fake credit cards and checks and then went to stores for more.

In a 12-hour period, they were $100,000 richer and had tickets to fly out the next day.

"It appears they came to town to do transactions and leave," Sgt. Mark MacKenzie said.

The men are in federal prison.

Everyone agrees they would have been nearly impossible to catch, had it not been for an alert off-duty officer and some determined officers who went the extra mile on what started as a simple case of fraud.