ST. GEORGE — What started as a suspicious activity report led to the arrest of a California man Monday on felony theft charges after a call to 911 reported a hotel guest driving a motorized scooter from a nearby Washington City grocery store into one of the guest rooms.
According to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest, officers were dispatched to the Quality Inn in Washington City after a caller reported seeing a man pushing an orange flatbed cart common to home improvement retails such as Home Depot into the parking lot of the hotel and into one of the guest room, as well as a motorized grocery cart from the Albertson’s across the street.
Officers responded the room, where a woman answered the door and told police she “didn’t know anything about the theft,” according to the report. When they asked if they could speak to her boyfriend, whom they believed was still inside of the room, the man, who was later identified as Mark Stoekl, of San Diego, California, agreed to step outside and be questioned by police.
As the suspect was leaving the room, the officer noticed the motorized scooter reported earlier sitting inside of the room in plain view of police.
Stoekl allegedly told officers he did in fact take the motorized scooter from the grocery store and explained he needed it for his girlfriend because it was hot outside that day.
When asked about the flatbed cart he was seen pushing hours earlier, the suspect said he used it to pick up some merchandise for a friend, the report states, adding that Stoekl could not provide any receipts or documentation showing any purchases he would need the cart for when the officer asked him to provide proof.
However, Stoekl allegedly said that he was able to get the merchandise out of the home improvement store after he showed one of the employees a copy of the online order in another individual’s name.
While still speaking to the suspect, the officer noticed an orange cart matching the description reported earlier, along with several tools loaded on it, at which point the officer requested a search warrant for the motel room.
Once approved, the officer entered the motel room and recovered the motorized shopping cart valued at $1,100, along with a mitre saw, an air-compressor and a Milwaukee rolling cart. Officers also found two online purchase receipts under two different names, neither of which belonged to the suspect or his girlfriend.
Officers also found a smoking device that contained suspected methamphetamine.
Following collection of the items, officers canvassed nearby stores where the items were suspected of being taken from and came up with a total of more than $3,400 in stolen property, including the motorized cart. A background check on Stoekl later revealed multiple theft convictions within the last 10 years for crimes committed outside of Utah, as well as a no-bail warrant issued out of California on a larceny case, but the officer later learned it was not extraditable out of Utah.
Stoekl was then arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility and was booked into jail facing two enhanced felonies due to his criminal record – including three third-degree felony charges – two counts of theft and one count of identity fraud. He also faces misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia.
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained.
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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