Washington County Housekeeping Theft Ring Busted

Washington County Housekeeping Theft Ring Busted

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Police say seven home burglaries in Leeds, Utah, since last spring are related to a housekeeping theft ring.

Housekeeper Sandra Ann Stephens, 52, of Leeds, was charged for burglary, possession of stolen property, forgery, identity theft, credit card fraud and drug offenses, sheriff's Sgt. Dan Endter said.

Authorities recovered more than $50,000 in heirloom jewelry and $3,000 in firearms related to the thefts from upscale houses, he said.

Stephens was arrested Dec. 26 after a Wal-Mart surveillance camera showed her using stolen checks to make a purchase.

Three accomplices -- Rene Martinez, 21, Ricky Spinks, 48, Chris Gier, 32 -- were arrested for identity theft, possessing stolen property and drug offenses, which appear to be at the root of the crimes, Endter said.

"It's really good to get them behind bars, especially Stephens," Endter said. "She's the ringleader."

Stephens was previously arrested by the St. George Police Department Nov. 18, 2003 on charges of credit card fraud and forgery.

The sheriff's office is searching for two others suspected of being involved in the thefts.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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