St. George police track down active scheme to charge $3K at Best Buy on credit card stolen from car

Stock photo.| Photo by Photo by BrianAJackson/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Two California men were arrested for vehicle burglary and bank card theft just hours after the incident was reported thanks to a quick-thinking officer who predicted the pair’s next move using information gleaned from recent crimes in the area.

Jesus Andres Munoz-Gomez, 31, of Bakersfield, Calif., booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Feb. 18, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Attorney’s Office, St. George News

The arrests stem from an incident reported Thursday afternoon when officers responded to Crosby Family Confluence Park in St. George on S. Convention Center Drive in a reported vehicle burglary.

Officers arrived and spoke to the caller who reported she was exercising at the park when she realized several minutes after arriving that she forgot to lock her vehicle. When she approached the car, she noticed two men standing just outside of the vehicle and saw one of the suspects closing the car door.

The woman confronted the suspects and when she asked them if they were just inside of her vehicle, they told her “no” and then sped off in their own car, according to charging documents filed with the court.

The woman provided a physical description of both suspects to police and said they were driving a dark blue sports utility vehicle.

The caller said when she checked her own vehicle, she found her wallet wide open and two bank cards were missing.

The report also states that by the time the woman was able to cancel the cards a short while later she was informed that a $1,400 transaction had just gone through the account from a purchase at Best Buy in Washington City.

Based on other similar incidents reported in the area recently, the report stated, officers then went to Walmart on Telegraph to check for the suspect’s vehicle. They found the SUV and spoke to the two men who matched the description provided by the reporting party in St. George.

The first man was identified from his as 28-year-old Jose Manuel Munoz Silva and officers identified the second man as 31-year-old Jesus Andres Munoz-Gomez, both of whom were identified by their identification cards issued out of Puerto Rico.

Jose Manuel Munoz Silva, 28, of Bakersfield, Calif., booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Feb. 18, 2021 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Attorney’s Office, St. George News

Both suspects were interviewed and Silva told officers they were traveling through Utah from California and admitted to making a stop at Confluence Park when they noticed the woman’s car was unlocked. Both men also allegedly admitted to entering the unlocked car and to taking the two bank cards as reported by the owner an hour or so earlier.

The men gave similar accounts to authorities saying they went into Best Buy where they purchased a $1,400 Apple MacBook and a drone that sold for $1,600.

While inspecting the two ID cards provided by the men, the officer noticed that the water marks were facing in the opposite direction on each of the cards and the markings did not appear to be uniform.

During a search of the suspects’ SUV, officers recovered the notebook computer and the drone purportedly purchased at Best Buy.

Both suspects told police they lived in Bakersfield, Calif., for the past two years but were unable to “divulge” a home address to police, the officer noted in the report.

The suspects were arrested and booked into Purgatory Correctional Facility where each faces three third-degree felony offenses, including two counts of unlawful acquisition of a financial card and one count of unlawful use of a finance card. Each also faces one count of misdemeanor vehicle burglary.

The officer also requested that both men be held without bail since neither lived in the area and the fact that neither man was properly identified since the two ID cards appeared to be fake.

Charging documents on Gomez were filed under the name of Jesus Andres Munoz-Gomez and remain unchanged,  but the name reflected on the Washington County Sheriff’s booking site was later changed to Juan Antoni Aranguiz-Sepulveda.

Both suspects remain in custody and each is being held on $11,980 bail.

This report is based on information provided by law enforcement 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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