ST. GEORGE — A traffic stop on a suspicious vehicle over the weekend led to the arrest of three suspects from Nevada, after officers recovered more than $7,000 in gift cards, brand new tools and merchandise allegedly taken from three retailers in St. George. The three have appeared in court and they remain in custody in Washington County.
The discovery was made during a routine traffic stop after a patrol officer noticed a multi-colored older model Dodge Durango that appeared suspicious as it exited the AutoZone parking lot and then failed to stop at the stop sign before turning onto Sunset Boulevard.
The officer approached and identified the driver as 46-year-old Stephen Beck, along with two passengers; 31-year-old Ana Scott and 53-year-old Alan Phillip Grissett. All three were residents of Las Vegas Nevada.
Beck told the officer the group had just arrived in St. George to do some shopping. He also said he was driving a friend around in the Dodge that did not belong to him.
When asked, the driver also told the officer the vehicle registration was suspended and said he did not have insurance. A check of Beck’s license revealed it was suspended out of Nevada.
During the stop, the officer could clearly see a considerable number of new Milwaukee power tools that were strewn throughout the vehicle.
When backup arrived, a K-9 was deployed to conduct a free-air sniff around the outside of the vehicle, at which point the dog reportedly indicated to the possible presence of drugs.
During the search of the SUV, officers recovered a substantial amount of property that authorities suspected was stolen, including the Milwaukee and Dewalt power tools, as well as brand new copper wire and other miscellaneous items, believed to have been taken from Home Depot.
As the search continued, officers also found a significant number of gift cards that appeared to be new and were valued at more than $4,175, all of which appeared to have come from Home Depot as well. All told, more than $5,000 in gift cards and merchandise was reportedly taken from the store.
The officer also had reason to believe the suspects had a device that would load each gift card or “knew someone who did,” as noted in the report.
Officers also recovered a large quantity of property that appeared to be from TJ Maxx and Home Goods, many of which still had the security control tags attached. The items included clothing, as well as electronics and miscellaneous housewares. The combined value was estimated to be as much as $1,500.
Also recovered was approximately $500 in merchandise that appeared to have been taken from Autozone, the location where the suspects were first spotted by police.
Officers also found an extensive number of syringes that contained a brown residue as well as a bag of suspected marijuana.
With the search completed, the retailers were contacted and both Home Depot and TJ Maxx reported seeing several individuals pushing shopping carts full of merchandise who then exited through the fire escape, causing the alarm to go off at both businesses.
Officers were also provided suspect descriptions that matched the trio stopped on Sunset, and also described the vehicle as an “older beat up SUV that had a Nevada license plate,” which also matched the Dodge.
When all three occupants were interviewed by police, the trio stated they had traveled to St. George to shop, but none of the suspects had any money on them and said they did not buy anything.
They also told officers they were homeless and looking for a place to live, adding they had been in the area for several hours prior to being stopped by police. The officer also noted that both Scott and Beck said they went to Home Depot and TJ Maxx, where both “openly admitted to stealing the merchandise that was found inside the vehicle.”
The report said that Grissett, on the other hand, denied going to any of the stores and had no explanation as to why the property was inside of the car, and the officer also stated the suspect continually lied about his actions and involvements.
All three suspects were arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing second-degree felony retail theft. Each also faces three misdemeanor charges, including two counts of theft and one count of possession of paraphernalia.
In addition, Scott faces one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance, while Beck faces a misdemeanor insurance charge and several traffic citations.
Beck and Scott made an initial appearance in 5th District Court on Tuesday, and are scheduled for a review hearing Dec. 7. Beck is being held without bail, while Scott’s bail was set at $15,000.
Grissett made an initial appearance on Monday and is scheduled to return to court Dec. 8. He is also being held without bail.
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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