ST. GEORGE — A vehicle theft and burglary spree ended in the multilevel parking facility at a Stephen Wade dealership on Friday after officers found the suspect crouched behind a dirt bike. The man attempted to flee when he saw police, but the run was short lived and ended with a ride to jail.
According to charging documents filed in 5th District Court, 32-year-old St. George resident Joseph Baum was arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility and faces multiple charges, including second-degree felony theft by receiving, along with three third-degree felonies: failing to stop or respond to command of law enforcement, unlawful acquisition of a financial card and failure to respond to an officer’s signal to stop.
The arrest was the culmination of an active investigation involving a number of vehicle thefts reported in the St. George area over the last few weeks. One of the incidents involved surveillance footage that showed two men riding a red and white dirt bike – also suspected as stolen – in the area of one of the reported vehicle thefts.
While canvassing in search of the dirt bike, officers spotted it turning into a gas station on the northbound side of Bluff Street. Officers pulled into the parking lot just as two individuals got off the bike and start walking toward the station.
Seconds later, one of the suspects turned in the direction of the officers and then jumped back on the bike and rode off with the officers in pursuit.
After a minute or so, the pursuit was terminated for safety reasons while officers returned to the gas station and spoke to the second rider who had been detained in the parking lot. The report states that officers were able to positively identify the dirt bike driver as Baum, who had a no-bail warrant and was a suspect in several other burglaries and vehicle thefts in the area.
Two days later, officers responded to a report of a suspicious person in the area of 1700 South Blackridge Drive. The physical description of both the suspect and the bike matched that of Baum and the stolen Honda dirt bike.
A deluge of officers responded to the area, and the arresting officer noted in the report that they arrived to find the suspect “squatting down next to the motorcycle” in the upper-level parking structure adjacent to Stephen Wade Chevrolet.
The officer ran up to the suspect and ordered him to the ground, which is when Baum jumped up and ran from police. However, he didn’t get far and was “arrested without incident,” according to the report.
During the arrest, officers found a black backpack next to the dirt bike, and inside they recovered several credit cards that belonged to one of the individuals who reported a vehicle burglary several days before.
When asked, Baum allegedly told police he found the credit cards in a dumpster.
Over the last week, the officer noted, the suspect had fled from authorities on four separate occasions and had gone through “extreme measures” to elude capture, even going so far as to drive the motorbike on the sidewalk during one of the incidents.
The suspect’s attempts to flee placed the public and law enforcement in danger, the report states, adding that there will be “many other criminal charges forthcoming” in respect to Baum’s alleged criminal activities.
Baum remains in custody without bail.
This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders 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.
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