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WEBER COUNTY — Two men were arrested Jan. 27 after allegedly stealing almost 20 vehicles, one of which had photo albums in it and was taken while the family attended a funeral, the sheriff's office said.
The Weber County Sheriff’s Office believe Elijah Ray Palmer, 20, Brandon Tyler Whitbeck, 29, and several others are responsible for a series of property crimes and an auto theft ring that spanned across Weber County for a month. The men would target unlocked vehicles and, if the keys were in the vehicle, they would drive it around while committing other thefts, the sheriff’s office said.
The men would often abandon the cars on the side of the road or in parking lots and if the vehicle wasn’t discovered as stolen, they would return and use it again to commit more crimes, the sheriff’s office said. The men stole power tools, electronics, credit cards and other items and used the stolen credit cards to buy thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, according to police.
Whitbeck was arrested in Davis County with a stolen vehicle Jan. 27, but Palmer evaded arrest, the sheriff’s office said. However, a detective later found Palmer walking down the street in West Haven and arrested him.
Police say Palmer was found with a Buick that had been reported stolen earlier that day in North Ogden. The owner of the Buick was preparing for the funeral of a loved one and had several photo albums and pictures in the vehicle. When police recovered the Buick, the pictures were missing.
During his interview, the sheriff's office says Palmer admitted to many of the crimes, including the theft of the Buick, and he told police he had dumped the photos on the side of the road “somewhere in Ogden City.” When Palmer was told the circumstances surrounding the photos, he told police he “felt bad” and agreed to help a detective locate the pictures, the sheriff’s office said.
The detective and Palmer eventually located the photo albums on the side of Easy Street, and they were returned to the family.
Palmer and Whitbeck were booked into the Weber County Jail, Palmer on suspicion of four counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, two counts of vehicle burglary, possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia.
Police believe the crimes are drug related and the investigation is ongoing.