WASHINGTON CITY — Charges have been filed against a man and woman involved in a series of purse snatching incidents throughout St. George earlier this month, including an incident in which an elderly person was allegedly shoved as her purse was wrestled from her.
The crime spree culminated Thursday afternoon when police arrested 34-year-old Dustin Reed Mills and 27-year-old Melissa Joy Brooks in the parking lot of a Washington City shopping center, located at 1055 W. Red Cliffs Drive.
Mills faces two second-degree felony charges for robbery, three third-degree felonies for unlawful acquisition of finance cards and failing to stop at the command of an officer, and three class B misdemeanors for retail theft and knowingly using a false finance card for goods.
Brooks faces two second-degree felony charges for robbery, two third-degree felonies for unlawful acquisition of finance cards, a class A misdemeanor for knowingly using a false finance card for goods, and two class B misdemeanors for retail theft and knowingly using a false finance card for goods.
The St. George Police Department had been investigating a series of similar parking lot theft incidents in which Mills and Brooks allegedly stole or attempted to steal women’s purses from them as they were getting into their cars in St. George.
An elderly woman leaving the Albertson’s grocery store on Sunset Boulevard in St. George on July 15 was preparing to load her vehicle when a man ran past her cart and grabbed her purse, police said.
“She chased the male in an effort to recover her purse, but he had entered a waiting vehicle before she caught up,” police said. “The occupants of the vehicle left the area.”
The woman’s credit cards were inside her purse and were subsequently used twice.
A similar incident was reported on July 16 involving similar circumstances. This time, Brooks allegedly approached an elderly woman in the parking lot of Target on River Road.
Brooks “attempted to wrestle a purse from an elderly female,” according to a statement of probable cause. Brooks fled to an awaiting vehicle without getting the purse.
A theft at a convenience store in the Bloomington area, where Mills and Brooks allegedly stole beer from the store, reportedly occurred about an hour prior to the Target incident.
In all three incidents, witnesses were able to provide a description of the suspects and the vehicle they were driving. One of the witnesses was also able to obtain the license plate number of the vehicle. The suspect information from all three incidents was similar, police said.
Detectives responded to the area and began saturating parking lots of retail establishments, hoping to locate the alleged purse snatchers.
St. George Police detectives located a vehicle matching the description provided by witnesses in the Washington City Wal-Mart parking lot. The detectives continued to watch the vehicle and contacted the Washington City Police Department when they observed a woman who matched the suspect’s description approaching the car.
When police attempted to talk to Mills and Brooks, Mills sped off in the car and fled through the back parking lot of Wal-Mart, exiting on 3050 East. Mills refused to stop as police tried to pull his vehicle over, but he made a wrong turn and struck a wall in the Family Pawn parking lot.
Mills and Brooks were arrested.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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