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Man is arrested after teacher's car, credit cards taken

Video from 2 stores helps lead to apprehension

A man who has allegedly been busy stealing purses and IDs from libraries and schools was arrested by Granite School District Police Wednesday.

The man was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of 29 charges including 25 felonies. The charges range from vehicle theft and possession of stolen credit cards to drug possession. He is being held on $140,000 bail.

Granite police began tracking the man after a car belonging to a Valley Junior High School teacher was stolen from in front of the school Tuesday night during parent-teacher conferences.

While the teacher was meeting with parents, a man walked into her unlocked classroom and found her gym bag on her desk, Granite police Capt. Bob Lavin said. Inside the bag were the woman's car keys.

The man was able to find the woman's car in the parking lot and took it. Also in the car was the woman's purse under the front seat.

The next day, the woman discovered her credit cards had been used at a Walgreen's and an Albertsons in Kearns and an ATM in West Valley City. Investigators were able to obtain surveillance video from security cameras from those incidents and recognized the man in the video as someone they arrested in November for stealing a computer from Granite Park Junior High, Lavin said.

Investigators tracked the man down in Murray and arrested him after staking out an apartment where he was living with his girlfriend. When officers took the man into custody, he had $995 cash in his pocket that he just received from using another person's ATM card, Lavin said.

Police believe the man was stealing purses, checks and credit cards to support his drug habit. Officers also found small amounts of methamphetamine, marijuana and illegal pills when they arrested him, Lavin said.

During the past few days, Lavin said the man had apparently used stolen credit cards to go on shopping sprees at several department stores and then traded stolen items with a man who had stolen a purse from the Murray Library.

The teacher's car was recovered at a nearby apartment complex undamaged. Her checks, IDs and credit cards however had been traded to another drug user, Lavin said.

Police said the incident serves as a good reminder to teachers to always lock their classrooms when they aren't in them. And library patrons need to keep a close eye on their purses and wallets.