Social media post helps police identify local man suspected in utility trailer theft

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The suspect allegedly involved in a utility trailer theft was identified after the trailer’s owner posted a message requesting help from the public.

John David Larsen, 35, of St. George, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Jan .27, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

On Monday, St. George Police officers responded to a local excavation business on a reported theft involving a 20-foot flatbed trailer that was removed from the business.

The owner told officers that he had video footage of a Ford F-350 removing the trailer from the parking lot.  Police viewed the footage that showed a suspect entering the parking lot shortly after 1:45 p.m. on the previous day. After hooking the trailer up to the Ford, the man drove off.

The trailer owner told police he did not recognize the suspect in the footage. The trailer was reported as stolen, but there was little else to work with at the onset of the investigation besides the fact that the truck was equipped with distinctive custom bumpers and racks.

With the investigation underway, the trailer owner reached out on social media asking for help identifying the suspect seen in the video leaving with the trailer. A short time later the owner received the name of a possible suspect – St. George resident John David Larsen — and other information that was forwarded to investigators for follow up.

Through the course of the investigation, officers learned that Larsen used to work for another excavation company. A records search provided a local address for the suspect.

Police responded to the address listed and met with Larsen. They also found a Ford pickup parked in the driveway that matched the description of the truck seen in the footage.

While speaking with police, Larsen allegedly admitted he was familiar with the trailer and said a friend gave him permission to borrow it and that he went to the excavation company and picked the trailer up. He also provided police with the name of the friend.

Police state that Larsen went on to explain that he intended to take the trailer up to Salt Lake City and have it back before the weekend but ran into bad weather going through Cedar City, so instead, he decided to drop the trailer off at a friend’s house in Circleville.

Police contacted the owner, who stated he had already reached out to all of his employees about the trailer and that he had no one working there under the name the suspect provided as the friend that gave him permission to take the trailer.

Larsen also provided officers with the friend’s telephone number, but according to the police report, when they attempted to call the number, it was “not accepting calls at the time.”

With no other information to support the suspect’s claims, he was placed under arrest and  transported to Washington County Purgatory facing second-degree theft for the trailer, as well as criminal trespassing for going on the business property to collect the trailer without permission.

Charges were filed the following day. Larsen was released from jail and is scheduled to make an initial appearance Monday in 5th District Court.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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