Raymond Wiley, 66, of Encanto was walking near Imperial Avenue around six in the morning Friday when he was stopped by a San Diego police officer.
"I try to get out and walk five times a week," said Wiley. "I carry a wooden stick with me because I've been attacked by dogs before."
Wiley said the officer told him to drop the stick. He then asked if he could search Wiley after learning he was on federal parole for a narcotics charge.
The officer searched Wiley and found a key in his pocket that Wiley said is for his granddaughter's car.
The San Diego Police Department said the key was shaved, or ground down on each side and made into a masterkey that could be used to break into cars.
"I told him, 'you're going to take my stick,'" Wiley said. "He said, 'no, I'm taking you. You're coming with me downtown.'"
Police arrested Wiley on charges of felony possession of a leaded cane and burglary tools for the key.
According to officers, Wiley had been looking into cars and casing them before the officer stopped and searched him.
Police also said they found rubber gloves on Wiley. Wiley said he had the gloves on him to use at work after his walk.He added he is a scrapper, or someone who collects scrap metal for profit.
Wiley was taken to jail on $20,000 bail. The National Action Network said they raised $2,000 to get Wiley out of jail Friday night. He was released early Saturday morning, they added.
Wiley's arraignment is scheduled for July 31. The National Action Network said they want to see the charges against him dropped.