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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A Utah woman was arrested after a police pursuit, which started when officers received reports she was stealing mail, ended in a crash Thursday morning, police said.
Tawnya Lynn Foster, 50, was arrested and booked into the Salt Lake County jail on suspicion of mail theft, possession of a forgery device, obstruction of justice, possession of another's identifying documents and failure to respond to officer's signal to stop, according to jail records. She also had an active warrant for her arrest, according to Cottonwood Heights Sgt. J.D. Tazoi.
Officers received a report that a woman was stealing mail from the east side of the city early Thursday morning, Tazoi said. A resident told dispatch a woman was stealing mail in a neighborhood and driving away in an older-model SUV.
"They called it in and proceeded, themselves, in following her," Tazoi said. "They were on the phone with dispatch, following her, keeping an eye on her until we got to the area."
When police caught up to the vehicle and tried to pull it over, Tazoi said the driver fled and began "driving recklessly." Shortly after that, the SUV rolled in a crash near 7200 S. Union Park Ave., Tazoi said. The SUV hit two vehicles in the crash.
The woman then fled the vehicle on foot before she was taken into custody, he added. That's when she was identified as Foster.
No injuries were reported in the crash, but officers recovered mail addressed to 48 different people and 28 total addresses, Tazoi said.
Court records show Foster has an extensive criminal history in Utah. She had more than a dozen active warrants, ranging from identity fraud to theft and assault, dating back from the past three years, according to jail records. Her most recent address in state records was at Valley Behavior Health in Kearns. A website for the center states the facility offers help to people with mental health and substance abuse problems.
On April 8, she pleaded guilty to identity theft, a third-degree felony, in 3rd District Court, records show. As a part of the plea, charges of third-degree forgery and a misdemeanor count of attempted theft by deception were dropped. A warrant for her arrest was issued on June 20 after she failed to comply with terms of her probation, records show.
Tazoi said the majority of people who steal mail are looking for cash or checks that may have been mailed. He said some also look for all sorts of personal information that may be useful in identity theft. He urged everyone to collect mail as soon as possible to counteract mail theft.
"Preferably don't let it sit overnight," he said. "Typically these guys will hit when night falls, even more so in the early hours, such as this, anywhere from 3 to 6 a.m. That's actually when most vehicle thefts occur, as well. Lock your car doors, get your mail as soon as you can, feasibly. If you're going out of town, stop the mail from coming altogether, and just try to be proactive in that respect."