SANDY — So often, a car gets burglarized and the owner has no recourse because there are few clues to follow, but not this case.
A former Marine and his brother have committed not to let a Sandy car burglary slide, and they've pursued the case to the point they've supplied police with some significant leads.
Their story started Sunday when Brandon Hoffman, who served 11 years of active duty in the Marines — including stints in the Persian Gulf and Somalia for Operation Restore Hope — walked out of The Rock Church at 10600 South and 1300 East.
Though Hoffman's window had not been broken, he quickly realized something was not right.
"Right away I noticed the center console lid was up, the glove box was dropped, and all the contents that I had in the vehicle were gone," Hoffman said.
Among the missing items were Hoffman's driver license, government identification, Social Security card and credit card. The suspect, or suspects, also took Hoffman's Marine Corps cap and Ray-Ban sunglasses.
The credit card proved to be Hoffman's and his brother's first significant lead. Someone started using the card at nearby businesses: Lowe's Home Improvement at 9291 S. Quarry Bend Dr., Walmart at 9151 Quarry Stone Way, and a Chevron station at the intersection of 9400 South and 1300 East.
Hoffman said the times of the transactions fell in line with time stamps on surveillance videos.
"We found some video feed of the suspects using my credit card at multiple locations," Hoffman said.
Video from the Chevron showed a red pickup truck fueling up from a transaction paid by Hoffman's card. His card was also used in a subsequent transaction where a white pickup truck with a rear shell pulled up to the same pump.
A separate photo showed, according to Hoffman and police, one man believed to be a suspect walking through Walmart.
"We know that there are groups of people that go out and this is how they support themselves — by doing vehicle burglaries."
"The suspect's wearing my Marine Corps cap," Hoffman said. "He didn't serve a day in the Marine Corps. It's not his property. I want it returned."
Another person, who did not want to be identified, said she her friend was a victim in a set of car burglaries Saturday night in Sandy, and her friend's stolen credit card was used at the same Chevron station after early Sunday morning.
Police could not say whether the crimes — or any other recent car burglaries in the area — were connected to Hoffman's case, though investigators acknowledged the possibility.
"We know that there are groups of people that go out and this is how they support themselves — by doing vehicle burglaries," said Sandy Police Sgt. Jon Arnold.
Arnold said the kind of leg work Hoffman was able to provide is "extremely helpful" to police.
Often, Arnold said, officers are not able to investigate these types of property crimes as thoroughly because of a lack of manpower.
Hoffman said he and his brother pursued the matter, in part, because of the other victims.
"We're reaching out and speaking for them also," he said.
Arnold said if people have information related to the case, they should call police dispatch at 801-840-4000.