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Police concerned with stolen gear following weekend raid

By Andrew Adams | Posted - Dec. 12, 2011 at 6:15 p.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A raid over the weekend has police concerned with what they found: a West Jordan Police sweater, pepper spray and ammo that may have been police-issued.

A tip led Salt Lake City Police late Friday to an apartment in Rose Park, where officers executed a search warrant. Inside Mario Lovato's apartment, investigators said they uncovered distributable amounts of meth, heroin and cocaine.

Officers also recovered a rifle, bullets, pepper spray and the police sweater. The rifle was not police-issued, according to police.

Det. Mike Hamideh said there are no indications Lovato wore the uniform sweater, but the potential is there that he did, or someone else did.

"It is concerning that he had that with him because this community values police officers," Hamideh said. "We wouldn't want someone inappropriately representing themselves as a police officer."

It is unclear whether the intent was in fact to use the sweater to impersonate an officer.

"It could be a myriad of reasons why they may have it," Det. Hamideh said. "It could be looked at as a trophy to them."

There are no indications that the uniform had been used by Mr. Lovato, but it is concerning that he had that with him because this community values police officers.

–Det. Mike Hamideh

Police said it is not uncommon as well for people to have officer uniforms or clothing because many of them are donated as surplus.

West Jordan Police Sgt. Drew Sanders said his department does donate old work clothes - but the insignias, markings and identifying patches are supposed to be removed.

Police are also trying to trace the origin of the pepper spray and ammo.

Hamideh said the bullets are within the range of performance characteristics that police use. It was not clear whether they belonged at one point to West Jordan Police.

Sanders expressed skepticism the pepper spray belonged to the department.

"We don't use that particular brand," Sanders said. "We did many years ago apparently, but we didn't use it very much - so maybe, maybe not."

Investigators said Lovato was recently released from prison and has drug and gang connections.

Lovato now faces charges of drug possession, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of stolen property.

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Andrew Adams


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