St. George Man arrested after alleged $770 theft, beating of Staples’ employee in parking lot

Composite image with background image by Thea Design/iStock/Getty Images Plus; overly stock image by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A local man was arrested Thursday after allegedly stealing more than $700 in merchandise and beating a Staples’ loss prevention officer in the parking lot.

On Thursday afternoon officers responded to the Staples office supply store on River Road on what was initially reported as a retail theft, according to the probable cause statement filed with the court.

Officers arrived to learn that a suspect had reportedly entered the store, filled a shopping cart with merchandise and then walked out without paying for the items. He was then confronted by one of the store’s loss prevention officers as he was loading the items into his car.

When confronted, the suspect began to punch the employee “in the face — repeatedly,” the officer wrote, which is when the store manager stepped in  and attempted to intervene. The suspect allegedly pushed the manager as employees called 911.

The recorded 911 call included a 3-minute segment in which both the suspect and the store manager could be heard speaking in the background. The recording of that conversation was turned over to police and a written account of the exchange was included in the report.

Jonathan Tod Hofmeister, 38, of St. George, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Feb. 3, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

According to the transcript, the suspect could be heard saying to the store employee, “Yes, I am leaving with your product,” followed by, “You guys have insurance on this stuff anyway.”

The manager could then be heard saying, “That doesn’t give you a right to take it,” referring to the merchandise.

The suspect responded with, “How do you think CEOs make it up in the world? By taking what they want.”

The transcript ended with the suspect saying the store could not prove he didn’t pay for the items.

Officers then spoke to the suspect, later identified as 38-year-old Jonathan Tod Hofmeister, who told officers he had purchased a printer and other items at the store. When asked, he said he spent about $500 for the merchandise, but then explained he could not provide a receipt as he had thrown it away after the purchase.

As the interview continued, Hoffmeister denied committing any theft because he never took the items home, and then he “attempted to make a deal” with police, saying he would go back into the store and pay for the items if the officer did not take him to jail — statements that conflicted the suspect’s earlier account and “insinuated” he never paid for the items.

Inside the store, officers obtained several witness statements from those who were present when the incident took place. A number of witnesses reported that during the physical altercation in the parking lot, the suspect continued the assault on the loss prevention employee, in spite of the fact that several employees were asking him to stop.

The report also stated the suspect “intentionally used force” against another while in the course of committing the theft. Moreover, all of the property taken from the store was recovered and valued at $770. The officer also noted that Hoffmeister had two prior theft cases within the last 10 years.

The suspect was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing second-degree felony robbery, along with two counts of assault and one count of disorderly conduct, each a misdemeanor.

The suspect is being held without bail and was scheduled to appear before District Judge G. Michael Westfall in 5th District Court on Friday.

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.

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