CEDAR CITY — Authorities took two men into custody Thursday night after connecting them together in an alleged theft of construction equipment at an Iron Springs solar project.
Eric Michael Dunton, 30, was arrested for theft, a second-degree felony, and burglary, a third-degree felony, while Michael Ray Armstrong, 25, who was arrested in the same incident, was charged with a class A misdemeanor for theft by receiving stolen property.
Prior to his arrest, Dunton had been employed for several months as a security guard at the solar project for Kelly Security.
Another employee, while working with Dunton Thursday night, became suspicious of his behavior and called Clint Kelly, owner of Kelly Security.
“She had seen him acting really weird, just really suspicious and she had a bad feeling so she called me,” Kelly said.
Having had some copper recently stolen from the work site, Kelly said he immediately went over to talk with Dunton following his employee’s phone call.
After talking with Dunton for some time about his behavior that night, Kelly said, Dunton allegedly admitted to him that he entered an unsecured Conex box located on the property where he removed multiple pieces of construction equipment.
Kelly, a former Iron County Sheriff’s deputy, called detectives from the Sheriff’s Office that night and detained Dunton until they arrived on scene.
Dunton led detectives to Armstrong’s home where they reportedly found a generator belonging to the solar project construction site, Sheriff Mark Gower said.
According to court documents, arresting officers located Dunton’s vehicle in the parking lot at the solar project. A search of the vehicle by detectives allegedly found more construction equipment valued at more than $20,000, Kelly said.
Gower said Kelly knew exactly what to do in regard to asking questions, preserving the evidence and detaining the suspect until the police arrived.
“The detectives couldn’t have done it without him,” he said. “It was his training and his experience that kicked in and helped us. Clint did a good job.”
Dunton had been an employee with Kelly Services for several months. Prior to being hired, he was required to go through a thorough criminal background check which he passed, Kelly said.
“I don’t know what happened to him. He had a clean background,” Kelly said. “He (Dunton) said he had taken the equipment because he owed some people money and they wanted him to take it and give it to them as a way to pay them back.”
Officers stated the same in the court documents.
“Eric stated he hid the equipment in his vehicle in order to remove it from the property and give it to some people he owed money to,” read the probable cause statement.
Dunton is currently being held in the Iron County Jail on $10,000 bail.
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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