A deputy with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office took three individuals into custody after a routine traffic stop uncovered a felony theft group with a dozen alleged victims.
According to a press release published by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, a deputy conducted a traffic stop on State Road 68 near mile marker 12 on Nov. 14 at around 7 p.m. The stop had been made just north of Elberta and involved a pickup truck that was towing a trailer without working tail lights.
During the stop, it was discovered that the driver — 44-year-old Tyler Ferguson of Salt Lake City — had been operating the vehicle on a revoked driver’s license. Additionally, Ferguson’s license required that he had an ignition interlock device installed in any vehicle he operates and restricts him from being able to operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in his system.
At the time of the traffic stop, Ferguson had allegedly consumed alcohol and had been driving the vehicle without an interlock device installed. Due to these alleged violations, the deputy was required to impound the vehicle.
While deputies were processing the vehicle as well as the trailer it was attached to, authorities allegedly discovered the vehicle’s identification number had been damaged, according to the press release. Officials were able to verify the VIN to the trailer, which had been reported stolen.
Although they were unable to confirm the VIN of the vehicle, authorities believed it had also been stolen.
The license plate on the vehicle returned with no record in the state’s data base, and a sticker on the plate allegedly belonged to a different pickup truck. The sticker also had been reported stolen.
The license plate on the trailer was also investigated and was allegedly found to be registered to a different trailer. The sticker on the license plate found on the trailer was also allegedly found to be from another trailer.
While searching and taking inventory of the vehicle, deputies discovered a backpack allegedly belonging to Ferguson. In the backpack, authorities reportedly found a license plate that had allegedly been reported stolen.
Also discovered in the vehicle, according to the press release, was drug paraphernalia, an open container of alcohol, a forged Social Security card, and a Tennessee birth certificate belonging to another person.
Ferguson also reportedly had four active warrants for his arrest, with charges relating to drug and theft cases.
In an interview with police, Ferguson allegedly said he had been camping at a location on the west side of Utah Lake, reportedly telling authorities there was other property located at his camping site.
Ferguson was arrested for three of the four warrants, including third-degree felony failure to stop at command of police, third-degree felony possession of a controlled substance, and class A misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.
He was also taken into custody under the suspicion of third-degree felony possessing vehicle parts without identification numbers, third-degree felony possession of a vessel or motor with reason to believe it is stolen, class A misdemeanor possession of another’s identifying documents with knowledge, class B misdemeanor alcohol restricted driver violation, class B misdemeanor theft by receiving stolen property, class B misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, class C misdemeanor ignition lock violation and class C misdemeanor using plate registered to another vehicle.
Ferguson was also issued a citation for a tail light violation.
He is currently being held at the Utah County Jail on $10,010 bail.
On Nov. 19, deputies traveled to Soldier Pass Road to conduct a follow-up, discovering several people in a makeshift campsite, according to the press release. Around the camp, police also allegedly discovered several stolen vehicles, stolen license plates and at least 15 other reportedly stolen items.
During interviews with people involved — including 51-year-old Tamara Mikol Bookhout and 44-year-old Zachary Lon Durrant, both of Salt Lake City — authorities discovered there was another, similar location in Nephi, in Juab County, where stolen vehicles and other property were being stored.
According to the probable cause statements filed in support of the arrests, the pair allegedly told police Ferguson had brought the majority of the stolen items to the location. They reportedly said they were “leap frogging” vehicles to a location in Arizona, where Ferguson had purchased 40 acres of land.
Durrant allegedly said he assisted Ferguson in transporting several of the items.
“It is my belief there are numerous other thefts that these individuals are involved with and investigation is ongoing,” arresting officers wrote in the probable cause affidavits.
Bookhout and Durrant are facing potential charges of second-degree felony receiving a stolen vehicle, third-degree felony possession of a vessel or motor with reason to believe it is stolen, third-degree felony possessing vehicle parts without identification numbers, class A misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, class B misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, and class C misdemeanor using a license plate registered to another vehicle.
Bookhout was also taken into custody for an active warrant out for his arrest involving class A misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.
Both have since been released on bail.
Heather Jean Dodge, 42, of West Valley City was cited in connection with the investigation and is currently facing potential misdemeanor drug charges, however, she was not taken into custody, according to arrest documents.
The Utah County Sheriff’s Office and the Juab County Sheriff’s Office consider these investigations active and ongoing. According to the press release, there are at least 12 known alleged victims and several known suspects. Some leads are outside of the state of Utah.