KEARNS — A wild chain of events Friday that included a low-speed pursuit and fire led officers to the discovery of a larger series of crimes in Kearns.
Officer Zack Young with the Unified Police Department said officers were looking for possible stolen vehicles when they noticed an RV hauling a trailer that had its slide-out out and was dragging a cord from a generator.
“We stopped them just to let them know that was a hazard and they probably wouldn’t want to damage their trailer by driving off that way,” Young said. “He stopped initially. We chatted with him. He was kind of evasive, didn’t want to give us any information and all of a sudden, he just drove off.”
Young said a low-speed pursuit ensued briefly on 4700 South before the driver turned the RV and trailer into the Shadow Ridge Estates mobile home park in Kearns.
“A woman opened the RV door and jumped out of it while it was moving and we also saw a trailer door open and some other people inside moving around — all of this while the vehicle was moving,” Young said. “As the vehicle rounded the bend, we started to see it smoking quite a significant amount and as we got up to here, it slowed down and made its turn here where it’s resting and at which point it impacted a parked car and became fully engulfed in flames.”
Police said the driver and all but one occupant fled.
Officers had to briefly evacuate five trailer homes as the flames from the RV spread.
“The back trailer is full of burglary tools and drug paraphernalia, stuff that looks like it’s been shoplifted — bags full of stuff with no receipts, that kind of stuff,” Young said.
Three homes sustained some damage from the fire, according to police.
Investigators said the RV and trailer turned out to have been stolen from Centerville in July.
CRAZY chain of events today that resulted in 5 homes being evacuated briefly and also led to the discovery of a larger series of crimes. Story tonight @KSL5TV at 10p #KSLTV#Utahpic.twitter.com/VdGSdvwvEC— Andrew Adams (@AndrewAdamsKSL) August 8, 2020
A Jeep also located near where the RV had been stopped also was listed as stolen, and all three vehicles had stolen plates from other cars on them, police said, leading detectives to believe all three car thefts may be connected.
By late afternoon, police said no arrests had been made and officers were still looking for the driver, though they said they were following some leads and attempting to confirm the man’s identification.
“Yeah, the driver will be wanted for felony crimes for sure,” Young said.
What caused the RV to start smoking and catch fire remained under investigation.
Gina Bjerke said she was told to get out of her house quickly as the flames spread.
“The thing was just flaming — just to the top,” Bjerke said. “It’s totaled. It’s totaled completely.”
Bjerke said she had never seen the trailer and RV in the neighborhood before and was stunned by what took place.
“It just drove into their yard — from where, nobody knows,” Bjerke said. “It was bad. I’m just grateful it didn’t hurt anybody.”