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.

Burglary

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.

Shooting a Substation Transformer is a Federal Offense

A Utah man who chose to fire shots at a substation transformer has been indicted on a federal offense of destruction of an energy facility.

Injudicious choice of a target

Photo by: starmanseries

Photo by: starmanseries

57 year old Stephen Plato McRae of Escalante, Utah is charged with a federal offense of firing shots at the Garkane Energy Cooperative’s Buckskin substation transformer which left a transformer severely damaged and large portions of Kane and Garfield Counties without power for eight hours. According to the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Utah, on September 25th 2016 a witness to the investigation of the transformer shooting led authorities to a firearm belonging to McRae which was believed to have been used in the destruction of the substation transformer.

Up to 32 years and $750,000 for federal offense

18 U.S. Code § 1366 states “Whoever knowingly and willfully damages or attempts or conspires to damage the property of an energy facility in an amount that in fact exceeds or would if the attempted offense had been completed, or if the object of the conspiracy had been achieved, have exceeded $100,000, or damages or attempts or conspires to damage the property of an energy facility in any amount and causes or attempts or conspires to cause a significant interruption or impairment of a function of an energy facility, shall be punishable by a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than 20 years, or both.” Beyond the possibility of 20 years in federal prison, McRae is also facing 10 years in prison for illegal possession of a firearm and two years for possession of a controlled substance. Along with a possible combined prison sentence of 32 years, McRae also faces fines totaling up to $750,000.

Federal offense vs state offense

Federal Offense = Federal Prison

Photo by: Aaron Bauer

Destruction of an energy facility which is defined by 18 U.S. Code § 1366 as “a facility that is involved in the production, storage, transmission, or distribution of electricity, fuel, or another form or source of energy, or research, development, or demonstration facilities relating thereto, regardless of whether such facility is still under construction or is otherwise not functioning (. . . )” is considered a federal offense and those found guilty will face time in federal prisons located outside the state of Utah. Although shooting at a transformer was obviously a foolish choice, it may be difficult distinguishing what constitutes a federal crime and what is considered by the State of Utah to be criminal mischief. Utah Code 76-6-106 states: “A person commits criminal mischief if the person ( . . . )recklessly causes or threatens a substantial interruption or impairment of any critical infrastructure.” Critical infrastructure can involve many systems including “any public utility service, including the power, energy, and water supply systems”. Anyone facing state or federal charges is encouraged to seek counsel from a reputable criminal defense attorney.