Suspected porch pirate, credit card thief faces 30 charges following traffic stop for DUI

Composite image with background photo by Matt Gush/iStock/Getty Images Plus,; overlay stock photo of St. George Police uniform by Cody Blowers | St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The amount of evidence collected during a traffic stop on Sunset Boulevard on Wednesday sent one man to jail facing 30 charges – many of which were felonies – for crimes allegedly committed while the suspect was out on bail for similar crimes.

2019 booking photo of Arturo T. Arellano, of St. George, Utah, booking photo taken March 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

A patrol officer monitoring traffic on Sunset Boulevard noticed a vehicle swerving in and out of its lane as it headed south on Westridge Drive approaching the intersection of Sunset shortly after 7:40 p.m., according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest.

The officer began following the vehicle as it continued swerving between the lanes and then crossed over onto Sunset Boulevard, which is when he pulled behind the car and conducted a traffic stop near the gas station on the corner.

The driver got out of the car as the officer approached, and he was identified as 31-year-old Arturo Arellano by his driver’s license.

While speaking to the driver, the officer could see a glass pipe with burnt crystallized substance near the gear shift, which Arellano said was a meth pipe, the report stated.

As the driver emptied his pockets, the officer noticed he was attempting to conceal a piece of tin foil with burn marks and covered with a dark film of suspected heroin.

The driver also appeared to be lethargic, the report states, with slow speech and movements, and the suspect’s eyes appeared watery and bloodshot with pupils that were constricted. This led the officer to suspect the driver may be impaired and asked him to perform a field sobriety test. Prior to the test, the driver allegedly admitted to recent use of methamphetamine.

The report said the driver was placed under arrest for suspected DUI after several exercises were failed during the test.

During a search of the vehicle prior to impounding, the officer recovered the glass pipe and found two small plastic baggies containing suspected methamphetamine in the suspect’s wallet, the report said.

Under the driver’s seat, the officer found a BB gun that was molded and stamped as a “Glock 9mm” handgun, the officer noted, which fires a projectile capable of causing serious injury.

As the search continued, the officer recovered four credit cards belonging to other individuals, as well as 21 personal, business and payroll checks – each made out with a different individual’s name on them. Also found was a label maker that appeared to have been used to replace the names on the checks.

The suspect told police he did not have permission to possess any of the credit cards, and when one of the names on the card was run through the system, it came back as stolen and the owner also reported fraudulent activity on the card.

The driver denied having any involvement with the checks found in the car, which the officer found upon closer inspection that each of the checks appeared to have been altered and the names were either removed or covered up, purportedly using the label maker, and then replaced with the suspect’s name or the name of his girlfriend.

File photo for illustrative purposes only of St. George Police blocking off the corner of Sunset and Bluff after a crash at Bluff Street and W. 1130 North Circle in St. George, Utah. June 18, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Police said 10 of the checks were also signed on the back by the suspect and his girlfriend and appeared to have been endorsed to make a mobile deposit into Arellano’s bank account.

Detectives were also dispatched to the scene to assist in identifying who the other checks belonged to, and were also tasked with collecting a large amount of mail found inside of the car – none of which was addressed to the suspect.

During a background check, the officer found that Arellano is a “multi-state offender with a lengthy criminal history,” with multiple drug, credit card and mail theft convictions, as well as cases involving forgery and possession of burglary tools and forged documents, the officer noted in the report.

“Arturo has shown a pattern of committing these types of offenses and has left a long trail of victims in his wake,” the officer wrote, adding if the suspect is released, he will “continue to victimize our community and there will be more victims who suffer financially from the crimes he will commit.”

Arturo also told the officer he had recently been released from jail and was currently out on bail when the traffic stop took place. With that information, the officer noted there was more than sufficient evidence to support the fact that Arellano continues to commit felonies while out on bail.

One such arrest took place in St. George after police found the suspect and connected him to a mail theft operation in 2019, according to probable cause statements.

Arellano was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing 30 charges, 27 of which were felonies – including 10 counts of forgery, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, five counts of unlawful acquisition of a financial card, 10 counts of possession of a forgery device and one count of possession of another’s identifying documents.

He also faces one count each of DUI, unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon and possession of paraphernalia, each a misdemeanor.

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.

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

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