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ST. GEORGE – Two suspects are in jail after being caught stealing equipment from a construction site in Washington City. A security system installed on the site alerted the owner who called the authorities. Police caught the suspects in the act.
The recent incident is among a growing number of reports in the city of Washington.
On Monday, police responded to a construction site where a new home was being built in Washington City after an individual called the police department to report an ongoing theft shortly before midnight, prosecution documents filed with support for arrests.
Washington City Police Lt. Kory Klotz told St. George News the site was monitored by a security system that alerted the owner whenever there was activity on the property.
The owner updated the emergency dispatch with information about the suspect and the vehicle as officers still attended the scene, advising that two people were picking up a trailer loaded with construction materials.
Officers arrived and found a closed trailer attached to a vehicle and a man in the driver’s seat preparing to leave as officers pulled into the parking lot.
At the scene, officers spoke to the owner of the property who said the trailer, worth over $ 7,500, was believed to be kept at the site, adding that no one had allowed anyone to enter. property, nor authorized anyone to remove it. any equipment or material on the site.
The driver has been identified as Richard Lance Rustad, 36. There was a woman in a second vehicle located on the property, identified as Amy Jo Banner, 44. Both suspects live in St. George.
Officers determined that the trailer was still locked and contained more than $ 2,000 of equipment and supplies.
Klotz said Ruston initially told police he worked for the company and removed the items for his boss. These statements turned out to be false when agents spoke to the owner, who said Ruston did not work for the company and did not have permission to remove anything from the site.
Banner told authorities she was also working at the site, which “clearly turned out to be wrong,” Klotz said.
âEventually, the two suspects admitted they were there to steal the trailer, equipment and lumber supplies,â Klotz said. âThe things they were going to sell, or pawn or whatever they had to do would solve their ‘new’ addictions. “
The suspects were arrested and searched. In Rustad’s front pocket, officers reportedly found a small package of suspected heroin, along with a straw that contained the same substance.
Authorities also recovered several packages containing liquid marijuana from the vehicle that the suspect was also using to transport the trailer, the officer noted, and was within reach of the driver. Banner was also searched and officers recovered a pill from his front pocket which was later determined to be a Schedule 3 narcotic. Authorities also recovered a number of packages containing liquid marijuana inside the vehicle she was driving.
The two suspects were transported to the Purgatory Correctional Facility and incarcerated. Ruston faces second-degree felony theft and both face charges of the misdemeanor of possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia.
Banner also faces one count of theft by second degree deception.
Construction thefts increase
Klotz said the department is seeing an increase in the number of reported thefts involving construction sites, adding that these types of thefts typically involve equipment or materials that are stolen and then sold for “quick buck,” he said. -he declares.
He went on to say that they find that many suspects involved in these types of crimes have to return the items quickly, and that many then use the money to buy narcotics.
The incident reported on Monday was unique, Klotz said, in that the owner had a camera system monitoring the site that alerted him remotely. This allowed him to see the activity and immediately alert authorities.
Klotz went on to say that unless there is a live security guard, a quality CCTV system is the best thing to do when it comes to protecting an owner’s investment, given the large amount of money that is usually related to building materials and equipment needed in the construction industry.
Installing high-quality lighting can also protect the site and even deter criminals from choosing that particular place to break in or steal, he said.
âCriminals are looking for houses or dark grounds,â he said. “That way they can go in and out without being seen.”
He also said keeping a record of each piece of equipment, along with the serial number, if applicable, will help officers identify the items if they are stolen. Pawn shops document the serial number of every item they ship, if available, which also helps investigators when they search pawn shops for stolen items.
âSerial numbers are essential for recovering stolen goods,â Klotz said. “This way we can identify a particular item by the serial number provided by the victim – eliminating any doubt as to the identity of the rightful owner.”
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits posting of arrest reservation photos until a conviction is obtained.
This report is based on statements from court records, the police or other stakeholders and may not contain all of the findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty by a court or as otherwise decided by a trier of fact.
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