ST. GEORGE – A 30-year-old man was arrested Monday in connection with reported burglaries and auto thefts involving three car dealerships in St. George, one of which occurred Jan. 19.
At approximately 6 a.m. Monday St. George Police responded to Approved Auto Sales, 356 S. 300 West in St. George on a reported burglary in progress. When officers arrived they encountered a man inside the business.
According to a statement released by St. George Police Department, the man brandished a handgun, pointing it towards officers, and then fled the scene on foot. The man, identified as Michael Chase Montgomery, 30, was quickly and safely taken into custody by responding officers with no shots fired.
Police recovered a firearm and suspected methamphetamine and stolen property from the scene.
Montgomery is also a suspect in the burglary that occurred at Munoz Auto Sales, 99 W. St. George Blvd. on Jan. 19.
On Jan. 19, Maria Deana Norush, 48, was arrested in connection with five cars reported stolen from Munoz Auto Sales. Police found Norush sleeping in the driver’s seat of one of the cars listed as stolen, parked in the St. George City parking structure, located at 20 North Main St. Police also found keys and property that had been reported stolen in the car Norush was sleeping in and found two more of the reportedly stolen cars nearby in the structure.
While officers engaged with Norush in the parking structure, a truck drove by and took off after seeing police, according to the probable cause statement in support of Norush’s arrest. Washington City Police later located a fourth vehicle of the five reported stolen from Munoz. Norush was arrested on felony and misdemeanor theft charges for receiving stolen property as well as drug charges and outstanding warrants.
See report and videocast here: Woman arrested in connection with 5 vehicles stolen from car dealership
According to St. George Police Department’s statement Monday, officers discovered a Maroon SUV parked at Approved Auto Sales with a dealer license plate belonging to Lunt Motor Co., 39 W. St. George Blvd. Property inside the vehicle suggested that the business may have been burglarized, the statement said. Officers responded to Lunt Motor Co. and discovered the business had also been burglarized and a vehicle stolen from the lot.
Lunt Motor Co. manager Kenneth Bentley found the dealership ransacked when he opened Monday morning, he said. The thief made off with the keys to several cars, paperwork and a Yukon Denali, which the police now have, he said.
“It’s a mess,” Bentley said. “They just threw everything they could find into piles, just dumped everything out, and trashed the place.
“It is going to be a nightmare to figure out everything – every paper in the place has been ransacked and dumped and everything,” he added.
Though there was no video available to give to police, Bentley said, the police did catch the suspect with the vehicle, titles and extra car keys.
It is suspected that Montgomery broke into Lunt Motor Co. prior to breaking into Approved Auto Sales, the Police Department’s statement said, and confirmed that items taken from the businesses include keys to vehicles, paperwork, and documents.
While investigating the burglary at Lunt Motor Co., officers located the fifth and final vehicle that was reported stolen from Munoz Auto Sales on Jan. 19 in a parking lot near Lunt Motor Co.
Montgomery was placed under arrest and transported to Washington County’s Purgatory Correctional Facility. According to the Police Department’s statement, he will be charged with multiple counts of burglary, theft, weapons, and drug related charges. These cases are still considered active and additional charges may be filed.
It is unclear whether dealerships from surrounding communities have experienced similar burglaries, St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said, confirming only Munoz Auto Sales, Approved Auto Sales, and Lunt Motor Co. subject to the burglaries and thefts thus far. In the ongoing investigation, St. George Police detectives work with detectives from other agencies.
The possibility of a “theft ring” is also not off the table, Despain said, but since the investigation is ongoing that information has yet to be determined.
“It’s still an active investigation,” he said. “We are trying to determine if there were any other individuals who were involved so it could turn into something like that, but at this point we just don’t know enough yet.”
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.
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