RICHFIELD — Four people from California suspected in a break-in and theft of more than $23,000 worth of generators at a Richfield Honda dealership Saturday morning may be connected to a string of similar burglaries across the state, police said.
Two of those four — Carlos Fuentes, 26, from Los Angeles and a 16-year-old juvenile from Hawthorne, California — were arrested in connection with the Richfield burglary after authorities received a tip from a clerk in Beaver who heard a vehicle description from a police scanner. Two others believed to be involved in the case remained at large Monday.
“We wouldn’t be where we’re at without her help,” said Richfield Police Chief Trent Lloyd, about the tipster.
Police responded to a report of a burglary at Jorgensen’s Honda, 980 Cove View Road, shortly before 12:30 a.m. Saturday. Eighteen portable generators worth more than $23,000 were stolen during that burglary, according to Richfield police.
A video the department posted on Facebook shows three people exiting a minivan that parked just a few feet from the front door, then smashing the front door glass with a set of pliers. The video then shows the people raiding the store. Police said the entire theft happened in fewer than 3 minutes, and the thieves left with all 18 portable generators in the dealership.
Shortly after the burglary, police put out a call out for the van they believed was connected with the theft, Lloyd said. That call went to agencies throughout southern Utah.
A clerk at a Chevron station in Beaver heard the call through a scanner and alerted the Beaver County Sheriff’s Office when she saw two “suspicious” people in a minivan that matched the description sent out by police, Lloyd said.
Beaver County sheriff’s deputies pulled the vehicle over, where they found all 18 of the stolen generators. Fuentes and the 16-year-old were arrested during the stop. Authorities also spotted two other people believed to be connected with the burglary leaving the gas station in a second vehicle, Lloyd said. Police didn’t immediately release a description of the second vehicle.
Lloyd said the department has positively linked the individuals believed to be invovled in Saturday’s burglary to a Cedar City burglary in August. They also believe the group was responsible for a South Jordan burglary and two others in the state.
“It’s just such an organized ring out of California that I’m betting that there’s more involved throughout the western United States, but we’re still looking into that,” Lloyd said.
The burglaries remain under investigation.
Contributing: Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio