Suspicious person call leads to felony arrest after 911 caller reports stolen vehicle

2016 File photo of Washington City Police vehicles on Red Hills Parkway, Washington City, Utah, November, 2016 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A local man faces multiple charges after police responded to a gas station on a suspicious person report Saturday that evolved into a felony arrest.

The incident began with a standard traffic stop that led to two men fleeing the scene, followed the next day by a suspicious persons report and a call to 911 reporting a stolen vehicle, which also happened to be the vehicle the suspect –  Jacob Register, 26, of St. George – was allegedly driving when he was taken into custody by police.

Register faces multiple charges filed Monday by the Washington County Attorney’s Office, including a single second-degree felony count of receiving/transferring a stolen vehicle and misdemeanor charges for failing to stop at an officer’s command, possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia possession.

The charges stem from two incidents, the first of which took place shortly after 2 a.m. Friday when an officer attempted to stop a green Honda for failing to signal while turning onto West 360 North, according to charging documents.

Instead of stopping, the Honda pulled into an apartment complex and parked in a handicap parking stall before two men jumped out of the car and fled on foot as the officer shouted commands for the suspects to stop.

The officer provided a physical description of the two suspects to emergency dispatch, and a records checks on the Honda revealed that the owner was a known associated of Register, who also matched the physical description of the suspect who jumped from the passenger side of the car.

Officers canvassed the area but were unable to locate the suspects at that time. The vehicle was impounded after a search where officers allegedly found a black cell phone on the front passenger seat of the vehicle.

Jacob Jay Register, 26, of St. George, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, March 15 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The following day, officers in Washington City were dispatched to a report of suspicious activity at the Texaco gas station on Red Hills Parkway where station employees reported that a man, later identified as Register, pulled up to the station in a maroon Honda and entered the restroom where he remained for more than 25 minutes.

After exiting, store personnel checked the restroom where they reportedly found burn marks on the sink and drug paraphernalia in the trash can.

Officers stopped the Honda as it was pulling out of the parking lot and ran a records check on the driver, Register, and found he had a suspended drivers license. A registration check on the vehicle revealed it was registered under another individual’s name.

Meanwhile, the owner of the car called into emergency dispatch reporting that their vehicle had been stolen from their residence several hours earlier, information that was relayed to officers who were still at the gas station speaking to the suspect.

The Honda owner told police the car went missing sometime after 3 a.m. that morning, adding that the vehicle had not been loaned out nor did they give anyone permission to use it.

When advised that Register was driving the vehicle, the owner told police they had no idea who the suspect was and did not know anyone by that name.

During an interview with police, Register initially said he borrowed the car from a woman that he knew only by her first name, according to the report, and then later told officers he was at a party earlier that morning where he was told by a different woman that he could drive the vehicle.

Neither of the names provided by the suspect could be linked to the registered owner of the vehicle.

When the suspect was questioned further about the conflicting information being provided to police, Register allegedly told them he was not sure which name the woman went by. He also said he had no way to contact her and could provide no further details on how he came into possession of the car, only that he did not take the vehicle nor did he know it was stolen.

During an inventory of the car subsequent to Register’s arrest, officers allegedly found syringes and other drug-related paraphernalia, as well as similar items inside of a trash can located in the gas station’s restroom.

The suspect was transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility where he was booked on the stolen vehicle and misdemeanor drug offenses as listed in the report.

According to the probably cause statement, after learning of the arrest, St. George Police officers responded to the jail, and during an interview, the suspect initially denied any knowledge of the incident on West 360 North, but once officers let the suspect know they “had him on body camera running from the scene — he then changed his story.”

The suspect was also advised that he could pick up his black cell phone that was located inside of the green Honda once the car’s owner got it out of impound, at which point police say Register “nodded his head up and down … and did not deny that it belonged to him.”

At that point the misdemeanor failing to stop at the command of law enforcement offense was added, and Register remains in jail on $14,920 bail.

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

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