ST. GEORGE — Two suspects have been arrested, each facing more than a dozen felony charges for a string of vehicle burglaries and fraudulent credit card purchases that, police say, were made at a number of businesses throughout Washington County.
The incident began on Aug. 22, when officers responded to an incident involving a vehicle burglary and financial card theft in St. George after receiving a report that more than 10 financial cards had been taken from the reporting party’s vehicle, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrests.
The reporting party also told officers the cards were used at a number of local businesses, and after obtaining images of the male suspect, later identified as Paul Fleming, 38, of Las Vegas, Nevada, the caller confronted the suspect at one of the stores who then fled immediately following the confrontation, according to the report.
The report also states that after being confronted by store employees, the second suspect, later identified as Kellie Jean Anderson, 43, of Salt Lake City, ran from the business dropping the wallet that still contained the reporting party’s credit cards.
Through the course of the investigation, officers learned that one of the transactions was linked to a local motel. When officers searched the room listed on the transaction, they found additional financial cards, checks, tools, identity documents and drug paraphernalia.
The identity documents consisted of eight government issued ID’s, one Department of Defense identification, four Utah Driver’s Licenses, one California Driver’s License and a social security card.
Officers contacted each of the legal owners of the ID’s and documents, and all reported the items were taken when their vehicles were broken into.
Officers also found 10 financial cards, located throughout the motel room, that belonged to seven individuals, and according to court records, were later confirmed by the owners to have been stolen from out of vehicles as well.
A number of individuals contacted by police also reported fraudulent charges on their cards, and according to witnesses, one of the suspects, Anderson, had attempted to use one of the cards to purchase $950 in merchandise before she was confronted and the purchase canceled.
Anderson’s accomplice, Fleming, allegedly made purchases totaling nearly $500 with the stolen credit cards.
Officers also discovered there were several checks written from a checkbook taken during one of the break-ins, along with a receipt for $300 from a local retailer that matched the check amount. Two checks with receipts attached were also recovered from a trash can inside the room.
In addition, officers arecovered $215 worth of tools suspected to be stolen from evidence gathered during the investigation. This included several drills, a saw, drill accessories and a welding helmet.
The mail recovered during the search was addressed to one of the individuals that had their vehicle broken into. As officers continued to process the evidence, they were able to match the property and items recovered to five separate vehicle burglaries.
Armed with photos provided by local businesses where the fraudulent transactions took place, along with a booking photo provided by another agency, both suspects were positively identified by police.
On Wednesday, officers first located and arrested Fleming in St. George, and then Anderson, who was found to be staying at a local motel, was arrested later that same day.
Fleming told officers during an interview that he found the cards belonging to one of the victims lying in a parking lot and admitted to using them, but when questioned further he requested an attorney and the interview was terminated.
Anderson was questioned separately, and she indicated to officers that she knew Fleming was obtaining cards and property from vehicles, and according to the report, also admitted to using or attempting to use the cards and checks but did not admit to breaking into the cars.
Officers later retrieved messages from Anderson’s cell phone, including one that referenced one of the vehicle burglaries, wherein she allegedly told Fleming that “he should have checked a glove box to try and get information to activate some cards,” the officer recounted in the report.
Once the interviews were over, both suspects were transported to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility and each face charges including 10 counts of acquiring a finance card without consent, two counts of possession of a forgery device and mail theft. Both also face five counts of vehicle burglary, one count of possession of multiple ID documents, receiving stolen property and unlawful use of a finance card, each a misdemeanor.
Anderson also faces a misdemeanor count of possession of paraphernalia and is being held on $79,500 bail. Fleming is being held on $78,820 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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