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Car-theft arrest leads to meth lab in garage

Bust results in the recovery of 23 stolen vehicles

WEST VALLEY CITY — A West Valley police officer with a reputation for finding stolen vehicles hit the mother lode over the weekend.

Detective Todd Gray spotted a stolen vehicle Saturday night near 2900 West and 4200 South that had been involved in a chase earlier in the day.

After arresting two men in a house Sunday morning, investigators checked the garage and found a large methamphetamine lab that was booby-trapped with sawed-off shotguns rigged to go off when the door was opened, Lt. Charles Illsley said.

The booby trap was not working when police entered.

Also found inside the garage were stolen cell phones, checks, credit cards, day planners and computer equipment. A 1995 Mercedes Benz also was seized.

While investigators were counting up the stolen merchandise, another stolen vehicle drove past them. Following a short chase the driver was arrested, Illsley said.

Inside that stolen vehicle, detectives found a backpack with 40 sets of keys to cars at dealerships from Woods Cross to Sandy. Many of the keys were intended for cars that had not been stolen yet, Illsley said.

As of Monday morning, police had recovered 23 stolen vehicles as a result of Sunday's bust.

One of the stolen vehicles was recovered following a 20-minute chase that reached speeds of more than 100 mph, Illsley said. The chase ended near 12500 South and 2700 West when officers spiked three of the car's tires.

Five people were arrested from both Saturday and Sunday's busts, including a fugitive who had several outstanding warrants for car theft, Illsley said

It's likely more cars will be recovered and more arrests made over the next 48 hours, he said.

For Gray, this is the second time in the past year he has recovered 13 stolen vehicles in a 24-hour period.