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Suspected burglars arrested following chase in Heber City

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Updated - Dec 18th, 2018 @ 6:51pm | Posted - Dec 18th, 2018 @ 10:46am

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HEBER CITY — Four people were arrested following a chase with Heber City police early Tuesday.

Investigators believe the group can be tied to a recent series of car burglaries and thefts in Heber City and other areas.

"We believe they are connected to other instances in possibly Wyoming as well as all over Utah, especially the Wasatch Front," said Heber City police detective Tammy Thacker.

Due to recent car burglaries, Heber City police put extra officers on the street Monday night through Tuesday morning to patrol certain areas. About 2:30 a.m., an officer attempted to pull over a car that ran a stop sign, Thacker said.

The vehicle, with four occupants, sped away. The ensuing five-minute chase ended when the fleeing vehicle took a turn too fast, went over an embankment and crashed in a residential area, she said. The crash occurred at 1760 E. 1950 North, according to court documents.

Lashelle M. Cordova and Brody Jay Winkler, 24, were immediately taken into custody, police said.

Officers surrounded the area to look for the two additional people in the vehicle who had fled. Cole Morgan Watanuki, 23, was arrested several hours later after police found him in a field, Thacker said. Michael Lopez was also later found and arrested, but details about where he was located were not immediately available.

According to police records, Watanuki was arrested on Oct. 24 for allegedly trying to pass "a stolen, forged check" at Mountain America Credit Union. The check was taken during a car burglary, a report states. Police were forced to arrest Watanuki at gunpoint after he ran from them. After he was captured, police found he was carrying "multiple" driver's licenses that belonged to other people, the report states.

In 2014, Watanuki took a plea in abeyance, pleading guilty to drug-related charges, according to state court records.

Winkler also has a criminal history in Utah.

In November, Winkler was charged with burglary and three counts of assault against a peace officer, all second degree felonies, after allegedly giving a ride to his friend and then going to that same friend's home and stealing a $4,000 computer and other items, according to court documents. Winkler and three other people the victim knew were captured on security camera footage inside the home during the time of the robbery, police said.

When police went to the home on the report of a burglary, Winkler, who was driving away from the home with the allegedly stolen items, looked back and "purposefully hit the marked vehicle" of an officer twice, according to an affidavit filed in 3rd District Court.

A passenger in the car told police that Watanuki was also present during that robbery, according to the affidavit.


Pat Reavy

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