A Payson man was taken into custody Tuesday after authorities say he was allegedly involved in the burglary and theft of an all-terrain vehicle from Payson High School.
The arrest stems from an incident on Aug. 28, 2017, when the complainant reported an unidentified man had trespassed onto the school’s property and attempted to enter the school’s building through several doors. The man was able to enter after several attempts through the garage bay.
After entering the school building, the man was then seen driving away on a 2003 Suzuki Elger all-terrain vehicle towing a small, ATV trailer, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest. This incident was recorded on the school’s video surveillance system.
The suspect in the video was described as a man of average height with a slender build and dark, shaggy hair. The case went cold after detectives received no National Crime Information Center hits on the vehicle.
On Sept. 17, Payson authorities received word that Springville police were investigating a man who allegedly had several stolen items hidden in a storage unit in his name, according to arrest documents. The man signed a consent form that allowed officials to search his storage unit and also advised police that he had possession of a snowmobile motor in his storage that was stolen.
During a search of the storage unit, police discovered several stolen items out of various jurisdictions, including the snowmobile motor. The serial number on the motor matched the serial number of the motor stolen from Payson High School during the 2017 incident.
The man allegedly told police the motor had come from 38-year-old Edward Otero, Jr., of Payson.
Otero had reportedly already been charged as several items from the stolen vehicle had allegedly been recovered in his possession, according to the probable cause affidavit.
Payton officials responded to the scene and allegedly confirmed the motor was from the all-terrain vehicle reported stolen from Payson High School. The man also advised police that Otero was reportedly still in possession of the all-terrain vehicle reported stolen three years prior and was being stored in a Payson storage unit.
The man explained to police where the storage unit was located, advising them that he believed the vehicle had been the one stolen from Payson High School in 2017.
Officers reviewed the surveillance footage from the 2017 incident, discovering that Otero allegedly matched the description of the suspect. Authorities also obtained a search warrant for a storage unit under one of Otero’s family member’s names.
While executing the search warrant, authorities were unable to locate the all-terrain vehicle in the storage unit.
Detectives made contact with the man once again on Tuesday. The man told police Otero had said the ATV was located at his parents’ home. Police responded to Otero’s parents’ residence that same day, and the homeowners gave authorities permission to search the property, according to arrest documents.
Otero was also allegedly living on the property in a travel trailer. Authorities made contact with him and took him into custody for active warrants out for his arrest.
While searching the residence, police also reportedly discovered an ATV matching the description of the stolen vehicle. The ATV, however, had been painted blue and the frame had been ground down and repainted in dedicated VIN locations.
During an interview with police, Otero allegedly said he had purchased the ATV for $1,200 about five years before the search. Otero could not, however, provide police with the names of the people he purchased both the ATV and the motor from.
Authorities seized the vehicle and have begun VIN restoration efforts.
He was arrested under the suspicion of second-degree felony theft of an operable vehicle, second-degree felony alteration of a vehicle identification number, and third-degree felony burglary. He was also placed in custody for two active warrants, including class A misdemeanor theft by receiving stolen property and class C misdemeanor operating a vehicle without a license or registration.
He is currently being held at the Utah County Jail on $1,715 bail.