St. George bike patrol officers arrest man on felony warrants for alleged theft, property destruction

Composite image shows St. George Police on Bluff Street in St. George, Utah, Jan. 25, 2018 | File photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man is in jail on multiple felony warrants and misdemeanor offenses after he was arrested by St. George Police officers on bicycle patrol early Sunday morning.

Benjamin Michael Westfall, 34, of St. George, was arrested on eight outstanding warrants and was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility where he also faces three additional charges, including misdemeanor failing to stop at an officer’s command, possession of drugs and possession of paraphernalia. At the time of the arrest, officers spotted Westfall near 600 East and St. George Boulevard, and he allegedly ran as the officers ordered him to stop but was apprehended a short time later.

Warrants reveal extensive criminal record

One of the eight warrants on which he was arrested was issued May 20 relating to property damage and theft that took place April 10 at a rental property, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of Westfall’s arrest.

At the time, officers entered the rental property and noted extensive damage to the flooring, walls, plumbing fixtures, windows and a number of doors. Police estimate the total cost of the damage to be approximately $25,000. The property owner also reported laundry appliances that were allegedly taken during an eviction.

According to the owner’s statement to police, the rental agreement stated that only one adult female and her children were to be living at the residence, but the owner said Westfall had moved in and was living at the residence.

The owner started the eviction process and told police that the tenant and Westfall refused to vacate the property until they “were threatened with forcible removal,” according to the statement. The owner then reported the damage and missing appliances to police.

Benjamin Michael Westfall, 34, of St. George, booking photo posted in Washington County, Utah, June 9, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Another warrant stems from an incident reported March 27 in which the defendant was allegedly observed taking two Samsung televisions from the Walmart store on Pioneer Road in St. George. Surveillance footage showed a man matching Westfall’s description carrying both TVs and leaving the store without paying for the merchandise, according to the probable cause statement.

Police were unable to locate the defendant until April 13, when officers spotted Westfall in a vehicle at a Maverik convenience store. When police approached Westfall, he admitted to taking the televisions from the store, said he was using heroin daily and had “a problem with theft since he was a young child,” according to the statement.

He was then arrested and booked into jail on third-degree felony theft. He also received a misdemeanor criminal trespass charge relating to the fact that he had been banned from all Walmart properties by the company’s asset protection department during a previous alleged theft.

The theft offense was enhanced due to prior convictions for theft and because it was allegedly committed while the defendant was on probation. After the defendant failed to appear in court on the charges, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

One of the other warrants was issued for a theft reported Dec. 23 at the Washington City Walmart on Telegraph Street. A suspect matching Westfall’s description was seen in the store’s surveillance footage taking merchandise from the electronics department and placing it in his pocket before exiting the store without paying for the items, according to the probable cause statement.

A short time later, officers found Westfall walking near the store with his hands in the front pockets of his hoodie, “and it appeared that the pockets were full,” police stated.

The defendant allegedly turned and walked in the opposite direction when he saw the police, and after being called by name twice, he complied and was detained. During questioning, police say Westfall admitted to taking the items, telling officers he had no intention of paying for them and that “he has a problem, and that he doesn’t know why he steals.” At that point Westfall was arrested and booked into jail on third-degree felony theft. After he failed to appear in court, the warrant was issued May 10.

On Dec. 7, surveillance footage allegedly showed Westfall at the Washington City Walmart removing a stylus pen from its packaging before exiting the store without paying for item, which police say he admitted to when he was located two weeks later. Police allegedly found the pen in his possession after he was transported to jail. The value of the property was under $45, but his charge was enhanced to a third-degree felony due to his extensive criminal history involving multiple theft offenses and because he was on probation and had pending court cases.

In November, Westfall pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia. His combined sentence of 544 days in jail for both charges was suspended, and instead he was placed on bench probation for 24 months and was fined $500.

On Sept. 1, Westfall was arrested for second-degree felony possession of a controlled substance after police say he sold Adderall during a controlled buy. When he failed to appear in court to face the charge, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Following his arrest Sunday morning, Westfall remains in custody without bail.

This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

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