Thieves Watch Content of Trash Pick-up after Christmas for Targets

Many gifts were opened today leaving behind mountains of trash and recycled boxes leftover from pricey gifts. Unfortunately, these remains of happy Christmas mornings may cause some residents to become potential targets of post-Christmas thieves.

Trash content post-Christmas

Photo by: Peter Dutton

As the Christmas festivities wind down for many Utah residents and the presents have all been opened, there are some who are still in the market to return home with gifts. Regrettably, they do not plan on making legal purchases. Many law abiding residents unknowingly put themselves at risk of break-ins from these post-Christmas thieves. What is this common mistake that makes some become targets over others? It is simply placing evidence of gifts outside for all to see.

List of new inventory

Most of the new gadgets, televisions, gaming systems, and other expensive items given as gifts this year come in packaging meant to showcase the item that is found inside. Once these items are unboxed, the packaging goes out to the curb to be disposed of by the trash and recycle companies on the next designated “trash day”. Until then, anyone who is able to walk up and open a bin or just be within sight of the trash pile will know what special presents were opened on Christmas morning. By putting trash evidence of new expensive gifts outside, a family may as well post a list of their new inventory for any passer-by to see.

Keep them guessing

Utah residents should take precautions after Christmas by breaking down large noticeable boxes to fit more discretely in bins and even keeping any gift packaging locked up in a garage or shed until immediately before trash pickup. Trash and recyclable packaging may also be disposed of in a location away from a person’s place of residence. These tips will not deter all break-ins, but will at least keep many thieves guessing at what they may find if they do decide to illegally enter a home after Christmas.

Nevada Hotel Burglary Suspect Arrested in Utah

A Utah woman who was the primary suspect for stealing items from a Wendover, Nevada Hotel and Casino has been arrested on burglary charges.

Scalped hotel reservation

Photo by: Garrett

48 year old Robin Olsen from American Fork, Utah was arrested for burglary after she convinced a couple to purchase her hotel room in Wendover, then proceeded to steal their luggage, person belongings, and a wad of cash from inside it. The couple was able to track their stolen credit card back to Utah, where Olsen was matched to security footage from the hotel and subsequently arrested.


Utah Code 76-6-202 defines burglary as when a person “enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit:

(a) a felony;
(b) theft;
(c) an assault on any person;
(d) lewdness, ( . . . )
(e) sexual battery, ( . . . )
(f) lewdness involving a child ( . . . ) or
(g) voyeurism ( . . . ).”

Code 76-6-202 states: “Burglary is a third degree felony unless it was committed in a dwelling, in which event it is a second degree felony.”

Temporary dwelling

Photo by: Prayitno

Utah County Jail has listed Olsen’s charges as simply “burglary” however, it is likely those charges could be increased to a second degree felony since the crime took place in a hotel room. According to Utah Code 76-6-201, a dwelling is “a building which is usually occupied by a person lodging in the building at night, whether or not a person is actually present.” Since a hotel’s sole purpose is nighttime lodging, that definition of dwelling could apply for any hotel, whether or not the room was vacant or not.

Similar charges across state lines

Olsen was arrested in Utah, however the warrant for her arrest was issued out of Nevada. A second degree felony in Utah is punishable by one to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The same charge in Nevada would be considered a Category B felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Since the crime was committed in Nevada, Olsen will likely return there for court and sentencing.

Aggravated Assault for Defending Home from Intruder

A Salt Lake City man was arrested for aggravated assault for defending his aging mother-in-law’s vacation home from an intruder.

The stake out

Photo by: Mesa Tactical

Photo by: Mesa Tactical

51 year old Glen Decker and his wife are caretakers of his mother-in-law’s home in Salt Lake City which is used mainly for vacationing. Upon regular inspection of the home, the Decker’s realized that someone had been breaking into the residence. To put a stop to the burglary, the vigilantes armed themselves and hid out in the dark unlocked home; hoping to catch the thieves red-handed.

Bait, set, trap

The potential repeat offenders took the bait of an apparently vacant home and let themselves in unlawfully, only to be confronted by the Decker’s waiting inside. With a gun in hand, Glen Decker ordered the two thieves to stay put until police arrived. The female suspect complied, while the male suspect decided to make a run for it instead. As the intruder tried to flee the home, Decker shot him once in the abdomen. The chase continued outside the home as the runaway burglar made it to his get-away car only to have the vehicle shot at multiple times by Decker. The suspect later checked himself into the hospital in serious condition for a single gunshot wound to the stomach and Glen Decker was arrested for aggravated assault and weapons charges.

Stand, not chase

Photo by: Elliott Brown

Photo by: Elliott Brown

Utah has a stand your ground law detailed in Utah Code 76-2-402 allowing residents to protect themselves or others from danger by using deadly force if needed. What some may not realize is this does not give permission to be confrontational. The stand your ground law only applies if “the person reasonably believes that force is necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury”. If a suspect is not posing an immediate threat, there is no justification in using deadly force; stand your ground laws would likely not apply for someone who is chasing an unarmed party.

La casa de mi familia

While Utah may not encourage residents to chase and shoot persons who are committing a non-violent crime, there are laws allowing homeowners (and possibly caretakers) to protect their place of residence from intruders. This is known as Castle Doctrine. Utah’s version of Castle Doctrine is found in Utah Code 76-2-405 which discusses “force in defense of habitation”. This law has certain stipulations that must apply in order to use potential deadly force in defending a home. The resident must believe that force is necessary to prevent a violent intruder or to “prevent the commission of [a] felony” in the home. Also, “the person using force or deadly force in defense of habitation is presumed ( . . . ) to have acted reasonably and had a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury ( . . . )”.

Aggravated assault

Aggravated Assault

Photo by: Chris Heald

Granted breaking and entering is against the law, it does not allow a person to detain a suspect with physical force or violence. If a violent intruder tries to enter your home, stop them; if they attempt to retreat, let them. It is not up to everyday residents to take the law into their own hands unless they feel they are in danger. When someone’s actions have the potential to cause unnecessary serious bodily harm or death, that person may face charges of aggravated assault. Someone found guilty of aggravated assault faces the same penalties as the individual facing burglary charges. Both are considered third degree felonies punishable by up to five years and prison and a possible fine of $5,000. Anyone facing charges stemming from an attempt to stop an intruder should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately to avoid serving time behind bars with the burglar.