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One suspect in crime spree gave speech on stealing cars

Police say up to 8 Taylorsville High students involved

One teenager has been arrested, and charges are pending against several others following a crime spree. All of the suspects are students at Taylorsville High School. One of them was even brazen enough to do a report in speech class on what he was doing.

The students, mostly seniors, went on a crime spree March 20, said Salt Lake County sheriff's detective Ben Blackmer. They stole three Chevy Suburbans and attempted to steal a fourth, he said.

One of the vehicles was left out of gear after it was abandoned and rolled into a business on Redwood Road causing minor damage. Another was also left out of gear after it was abandoned and rolled into a Chrysler LeBaron. The third was in a condominium parking lot.

The students also are suspected in at least 20 vehicle burglaries and possibly one residential burglary, Blackmer said. By the time the group was caught, they had caused about $15,000 in property damage and stolen $11,000 in property including golf clubs, stereos, music CDs and at least one checkbook, he said.

The teens typically would steal items, hide them under a tree or somewhere nearby and then retrieve them later.

An animal control officer spotted the teens retrieving their stolen items and called the sheriff's department.

A Suburban with four juveniles was stopped, Blackmer said. In addition to the stolen items, investigators also found 20 cannisters of nitrous oxide in the vehicle. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, has become a popular new drug among people typically associated with underground rave dances and parties.

One boy was arrested and taken to juvenile detention. Blackmer said he expected more arrests to follow. Investigators believe between four and eight teenagers were involved in this group of thieves.

Monday, detectives received word that one of the boys was brazen enough to give a report in his speech class about how to steal cars. The report was very detailed, said Blackmer, going over how to hot-wire a vehicle. The boy also said in his report that Chevy Suburbans were his favorite vehicle to steal, he said.

Taylorsville High principal David Gourley said he was aware of the investigation and the arrest but not of the speech.

"I'm terribly disappointed anytime you have youth involved in that activity," Gourley said. He had few comments except to say he looked forward to having the investigation completed.

At least one of the teens involved in the stolen Suburban ring is also believed to be involved with a string of armed robberies in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and West Valley City over the weekend at several stores including an Albertson's and a Dan's. Three teenagers were arrested in that incident. Police were still looking Tuesday for a fourth.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com