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8 people accused in burglary spree

Police recovered more than $300,000 worth of stolen merchandise, including a paraglider and hand bells.
Police recovered more than $300,000 worth of stolen merchandise, including a paraglider and hand bells.
Michael Brandy, Deseret News

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Just a quick glance at the items, and it's evident this wasn't a typical burglary spree.

The items included tattoo removal machines, a paraglider, a custom motorcycle, collector's comic books, computers, tires and a complete set of hand bells typically used in orchestras.

Investigators say those are just part of the nearly $300,000 worth of merchandise a group of thieves, led by two brothers, took over the past several months.

"If it wasn't nailed down, and sometimes even if it was, it was fair game," said Unified Police Sgt. Saul Bailey.

The group is believed to be responsible for hundreds of residential, vehicle and business burglaries along the Wasatch Front, stretching through four counties, including such high-profile incidents as a brazen burglary at Milosports and one at a Mac store in Murray in which a vehicle was driven through the front window and several high-end computers were taken.

Investigators from multiple agencies participated in the investigation. Over the weekend, a search warrant was served on a storage shed in Millcreek near 200 East and 4050 South, where many of the stolen items were found.

Bailey said the investigation is still in its infancy, and officials weren't even sure how many people are victims.

"Some may not even know they're victims until they see their stuff on TV," he said.

Brothers Tom and Christopher McMillan and Cody Bertelsen are accused of being the leaders of the group. Investigators believe three other men and two women also were involved. All are career criminals well known to police.

Detectives believe what drove the group was simply money. They tried to take everything they could and sell it later, police said.

"Some (of the burglaries) were crimes of opportunity, some were well thought out," Bailey said.

Most of the suspects have been in jail or prison recently on unrelated charges, said UPD Lt. Don Hutson. As of Wednesday, three of the eight were in jail, and warrants were issued for the remaining five.

"It's rewarding," Bailey said of the arrests, "due to the fact there are so many victims."

Officers will now work to try and identify the owners of the recovered property.

e-mail: preavy@desnews.com