String of trailhead, other vehicle burglaries prompts public safety warning

ST. GEORGE — A recent uptick in vehicle burglaries, some at area trailheads, has prompted the Santa Clara-Ivins Police Department to issue a warning to citizens to be more vigilant.

“We’ve been investigating burglaries that have occurred,” Santa Clara-Ivins Police Sgt. Reed Briggs said.

Two such burglaries occurred at the parking area just outside of Snow Canyon State Park which marks the trailhead for Johnson’s Arch and Scout Cave, Briggs said.

An additional burglary occurred at the Anasazi Valley Trailhead.

Briggs said that the problem with the trailhead burglaries is that people are often gone from their vehicle for several hours at a time. This gives the perpetrators plenty of time to steal personal items and valuables or get bank account information and identity and make off with more money.

Cars fill the parking lot outside the south entrance to Snow Canyon State Park where recent burglaries have occurred, Ivins, Utah, Feb. 21, 2020 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Officers are investigating a group of people who may be connected with burglaries in St. George, Cedar City, Mesquite, Nevada and possibly Las Vegas and Sedona, Arizona.

The individuals in question, who have not been apprehended yet, are using rental cars to travel across city and state lines and commit the burglaries.

Authorities have identified that one vehicle was rented in mid-January at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix and was eventually swapped out for a different vehicle in Las Vegas, Briggs said.

That officers said the perpetrators have had a gray Infiniti QX30, a gray Jeep Compass, a silver Nissan Rogue, a dark blue Nissan Rogue, a silver GMC Acadia and a dark blue Hyundai Santa Fe.

“They kept trading out the vehicles which made it a little problematic for us to try and keep up with them,” Briggs said.

Detectives are working with the rental companies to see if video surveillance can help them identify the person(s) renting the vehicles.

Suspects were also stealing license plates and swapping them out on the vehicles, Briggs said, adding that they were able to identify one license plate that hadn’t been swapped out which is how they were able to find the connection to the rental cars.

Though Briggs didn’t know about other agencies, he said that in the Santa Clara-Ivins jurisdiction, perpetrators had taken nearly $10,000 worth of personal items and money stolen from vehicles and bank accounts.

In light of the recent string of burglaries, Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety put out a public service announcement reminding people to lock their vehicles and take all their valuables with them or keep them out of sight, especially at trailheads or in public places.

Briggs also cautioned citizens to be aware of their surroundings and take good mental notes of the vehicles in the area and whether or not they are occupied.

Extra vigilance is also cautioned for people whose vehicles are left in driveways or are parked on the street.

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