Suspect identified by police after stealing from same hardware store twice in a week

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A local man was identified by police as the suspect wanted for the theft of several thousand dollars’ worth of power tools taken from a local hardware store. After the suspect returned to the same store, in addition to previous surveillance footage, officers were provided a clearer image of the suspect and his vehicle.

Cody William Howard, 34, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Dec. 30, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

The first incident took place Dec. 23, when officers were called out to a retail theft reported at Ace Hardware in St. George. Police arrived and reviewed video footage of a suspect taking a power tool out of its box and concealing it in his pants before exiting the store without paying for the items, according to charging documents filed with the court.

Despite obtaining footage of the suspect and the vehicle he was driving, according to the report, the officer was unable to identify the suspect until the man returned to the store a week later.

During the second incident reported Dec. 30, surveillance footage showed a suspect matching the man who entered the store the previous week who then “took similar brand power tools and committed the crime the same way” as what was seen the week before, the officer noted in the report.

While viewing the footage more closely, the officer was able to make out a few of the letters on the license plate of the suspect’s vehicle. After conducting a records search, authorities identified the suspect as Cody Howard by comparing the driver’s license photo against the man in the footage, which is when they determined it was the same person.

Shortly thereafter, an officer located Howard, and while speaking to police, the suspect admitted, according to the report, that he had the power tools taken from the hardware store during both incidents but said that he did not steal them and that another male actually took the items.

The suspect also turned the stolen tools over to police, the report states, as well as a number of other power tools the suspect told officers were stolen, but then stated he wasn’t sure where they were taken from.

Howard was arrested and booked into Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility on three felonies, including two counts of theft and one count of theft by receiving stolen property, charges that were filed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office the following day.

Moreover, the charges were enhanced after officers found that Howard had a number of convictions prior to his arrest. The suspect also faces misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia for a glass pipe allegedly recovered by officers during a search prior to transport.

The suspect has multiple drug convictions as well as cases involving theft. One such case was filed in Sanpete County in February 2016 and involved a car burglary where tools were taken from a vehicle and then pawned at in Selina. Officers recovered the property and, according to court records, the shop employees were able to identify Howard as the individual who pawned the items.

During an interview a short time later, the suspect admitted to the allegations, and he was booked into jail on misdemeanor vehicle burglary and theft by deception, after taking items and pawning them in exchange for a loan. The theft charge was later dismissed under the terms of the plea agreement and the case was closed in 2019.

Nine months after the burglary arrest the suspect was arrested again in Sanpete County following an investigation into a report of a counterfeit bill that was allegedly passed at a gas station near Fairfield in December of that same year.

During the incident, the suspect, later identified as Howard, entered the store with two women, and then presented the clerk with a $50 bill. The clerk told Howard the currency was counterfeit and then confiscated the bill and called police.

The suspect “panicked” and then fled the store on foot, the officer noted from the interview with the store employee. He was found by officers at a trailer not far from the gas station. He was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession of a forgery-writing device, along with misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge.

The obstruction charge was later dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea and the case was closed three years later.

According to authorities, the combined value of the items taken during the two incidents reported in December exceeded $3,000, and while officers said they have reason to believe a second suspect may have been involved, no further details on a possible accomplice have been released.

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.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!