Police: Woman breaks into Dutchman’s Market to steal snacks

The scene of a suspected business burglary in Santa Clara, Utah, Feb. 16, 2019 | File photo courtesy of Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department, St. George News

SANTA CLARA — A woman is in custody after police say she broke into a convenience store in Santa Clara early Saturday morning and stole snacks.

Santa Clara-Ivins Police Sgt. Jaron Studly said the incident occurred at Dutchman’s Market, 2300 Santa Clara Drive, with the initial break-in taking place around 1:30 a.m.

“The report came in around 6 o’clock a.m., when the clerk came in,” Studly said. “Officers arrived, cleared the building and found the front door and the front window to be broken. It didn’t appear like much was disturbed, so they reviewed the video and saw that there was a female in an orange hoodie who entered the store.”

The woman apparently used a Dutch oven lid to break one of the store’s front windows, Studly said, then used broken glass from the window to gain entrance through the door.

Studly said the woman is seen on the video taking food and drink items from the store, which is known for its pink sugar cookies. She is also seen entering the store a second time a little over an hour later, at approximately 2:45 a.m.

Dutchman’s Market, scene of a suspected business burglary, Santa Clara, Utah, Feb. 16, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department, St. George News

Noting that the woman appeared to be transient, officers checked a homeless shelter in the area and eventually located the suspect in a nearby parking lot.

“She was wearing the same attire, the belongings and her things that you can see on the video, the same backpack, all the snacks and things from the gas station,” Studly said.

Some of the items the woman reportedly took from the store include pastries, jerky, candy and energy drinks.

“She was transient. She’s fighting some mental health issues,” Studly said. “That was the reason for the burglary. She was hungry.”

Katie Madsen, manager of Dutchman’s, said she is grateful nobody was hurt and that the damage and losses were minimal.

“She was hungry, and sometimes people do desperate things when they’re hungry,” Madsen said in a video posted on the store’s Instagram account.

“The overwhelming feeling here is gratitude,” Madsen added. “No one was hurt, more damage wasn’t done and the police were amazing.”

Madsen said she hopes more can be done to help people who are hungry and homeless, so they won’t resort to such drastic measures.

“As a result of this, the owners, Nick and Liisa Frei, have asked us (store employees) to come up with ways to try and help feed those that are hungry,” Madsen told St. George News.

Nick Frei said:

In the 33 years we’ve been open, we’ve been broken into multiple times, but this is the first time that the only items taken were food. It has made us wonder if we are doing enough to help those that are hungry.

Madsen said the store is back open for business as usual. “We’ve got a new drink menu and lots of cookies ready to go,” she said.

Dutchman’s Market, scene of a suspected business burglary, Santa Clara, Utah, Feb. 16, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department, St. George News

Meanwhile, police arrested the suspect, 40-year-old Elaina L. Clayton-Bunch, of Henderson, Nevada, and took her into custody later Saturday morning.

Clayton-Bunch was booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility on suspicion of two counts of burglary of a nondwelling and one count of criminal mischief with between $1,500-5,000 in damages, all third-degree felonies. Additionally, she was booked on suspicion of three misdemeanor counts of theft/retail theft under $500 and one count of vehicle burglary, also a misdemeanor.

The vehicle burglary and one of the theft charges stem from the fact that Clayton-Bunch is suspected of breaking into a concrete pumper parked near the store and taking a sweater or hoodie from inside the vehicle, according to police.

Elaina Clayton-Bunch jail booking photo, Feb. 16, 2019 | Courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Although a booking photo of Clayton-Bunch was not initially posted on the jail bookings website, it has since been added.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement 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.

Updated Feb. 19, 12:30 p.m. to include booking photo.

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

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