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Updated Apr 12, 2013 - 2:29 pm

Ex-Tempe police officer pleads guilty to theft

PHOENIX -- A former Tempe patrol officer accused of stealing police property and cash last year has pleaded guilty in the case.

Maricopa County prosecutors said Aaron Smith entered his plea Friday and will be sentenced on June 7.

Smith was arrested last July after a month-long internal investigation on suspicion of theft, burglary and tampering with physical evidence.

Tempe police said they began to get reports of missing items in early July.

They said Smith had access to the areas where the property disappeared and his swing-shift hours matched up with when the items went missing.

Detectives later found two stolen police bicycles when they served search warrants at Smith's home, vehicles and work locker.

They said Smith admitted to stealing the property and claimed he was under extreme financial hardship.

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