Theft, Other Charges for “Beer Run Bandit”

theft charges for beer run bandit

Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

A man who attempted the theft of two 18-packs of beer on New Years Eve was arrested by the Weber County Sheriff’s Office. While the beer may have been for that evening’s celebrations, law enforcement officers don’t believe the man only stole from one store.

Don’t Send This Guy for Beer

Matthew Howell gives a whole new definition to the term “going on a beer run.” According to KSL News, on Dec. 31, Howell, nicknamed the “Beer Run Bandit” by police, entered a Pilot Flying J convenience store, picked up two 18-packs of Bud Light, and left the store without paying for them. Two employees saw the theft take place and followed Howell outside, where he got in a truck and locked the doors.

When one of the employees was noting the rear license plate number, Howell reversed the truck in high speed and nearly ran over the employee. However, after Howell drove away, the Weber County Sheriff’s Office was able to locate the truck in a hotel parking lot in Ogden. The deputy found Howell in one of the rooms with a female and an “extensive amount of beer” which led law enforcement to believe “the man has committed many similar crimes along the northern Wasatch Front.”

Howell was booked on suspicion of theft, aggravated assault, and aggravated robbery.

Theft Defined per Utah Criminal Code

According to Utah Criminal Code 76-4-404, theft is defined as obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over the property of another with a purpose to deprive that person of their property. However, it doesn’t have to be personal, as in taking something from someone directly. In the case of Howell, the “property” belongs to the owners of the gas station, even though they aren’t on the premises at the time of the incident.

Per Utah Criminal Code 76-4-412, theft may be charged as anything from a class B misdemeanor to a second degree felony depending on how the crime is carried out (as in with or without a weapon) and the property stolen. In Howell’s case, the theft would mostly likely be a class B misdemeanor for a property value less than $500. Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Six months in jail is a long time over just two 18-packs of beer. If you or someone you know has been convicted of theft, don’t leave your fate in the hands of a public defender. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will look out for your best interests.

Man Sought for Security Camera Vandalism in Salt Lake City

video camera vandalism

Photo: Leon Brooks/Wikimedia Commons

In a random act of vandalism, a man destroyed a security camera in a parking garage. The Salt Lake City Police Department is hoping the public will be able to help identify the man.

Take THAT, Stupid Security Camera

According to a report from KSL News, the vandalism occurred on Saturday, Nov. 8, when a man entered the parking garage of the Salt Palace Convention Center. Apparently practicing for when he’s rich and famous and has to fend off the paparazzi—or outright assault them, like celebrities Alec Baldwin or Sam Worthington—the man punched a security camera off the wall, then proceeded to pick it up and throw it to the ground.

Even though police don’t know his identity, they know what the suspect looks like. Before being assaulted, the video camera was able to grab an image of him. He is described as being white, approximately six-feet tall and 200 pounds. Police are guessing his age to be in his twenties.

At Least it was just Vandalism

When the man is caught, he will be lucky not to be Alec Baldwin or Sam Worthington. Well, at least as far as criminal charges are concerned. The vandalism charges in this case would most likely be less than assault charges.

According to Utah Code 76-6-106, vandalism is considered “criminal mischief.” Vandalism ranges from a class B misdemeanor, resulting in up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, up to a second degree felony, resulting in up to fifteen years in prison and a fine up to $15,000. The different levels are based on the following criteria:

  • if the vandalism occurred to “critical infrastructure” such as information, transportation, banking or public utilities
  • if it is insurance fraud
  • if it endangered life
  • the value of the property

For example, a second degree felony results when a person “recklessly causes or threatens a substantial interruption or impairment of any critical infrastructure” or if the property damaged is over $5,000 in value. The lowest conviction, the class B misdemeanor, results when someone’s actions endanger human health or safety (but not life) or if the property is less than $500 in value.

Vandalism, or criminal mischief, has a wide range of interpretation and potential subsequent punishments. If you or someone you know has been charged with criminal mischief, make sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who will look out for your best interests.

Police Suspect BYU Student of Manufacturing Drugs

BYU Student Manufacturing Drugs

Photo: Leyo/Wikimedia Commons

A small apartment fire near BYU led two roommates to contact the police after what they found in their other roommate’s room. The roommate had apparently been manufacturing drugs, specifically methamphetamine, in his room. The roommate is still being sought for questioning.

Breaking Bad at Brigham Young

According to a report from KSL News, the catalyst to the discovery that the roommate was manufacturing drugs was a fire in the suspect’s room on Thursday, Nov. 6. Two of the roommates helped the suspect, a student of Brigham Young University, put out the fire, one he claimed was started by accidentally spilling some rubbing alcohol. The suspect left later that night, stating he was going to visit a friend in the hospital.

One of the roommates who helped the suspect put out the fire, Nicholas Zarate, told police he was curious about the extent of the damage caused by the fire and picked the lock on the door. According to Provo Police Lt. Brandon Post, “At that point they saw suspicious glassware and chemicals and they contacted Riviera [Apartments] management.” Post called it a “fully operational” meth lab.

The Drug Enforcement Administration cleaned up the lab, and because the suspect had been manufacturing drugs, the Utah Department of Health quarantined the apartment. Post said the apartment would require an “extensive cleaning process” before it would be suitable for occupancy again.

The suspect never returned to the apartment. Police are treating him as a person of interest but as of Saturday had not issued a warrant for manufacturing drugs.

Manufacturing Drugs Punishment

According to the Utah Controlled Substances Act, Utah Code 58-37-8 “Prohibited Acts-Penalties,” manufacturing drugs in unlawful as “knowingly and intentionally; produce, manufacture, or dispense, or to possess with intent to produce, manufacture, or dispense, a controlled or counterfeit substance.”

The Act continues to list the penalties for manufacturing drugs, ranging from a class A misdemeanor to a first degree felony depending on the Schedule classification of the drug and whether it is a repeat offense. There are five Schedule classifications, with Schedule I being considered the most dangerous and addictive. Methamphetamines fall into Schedule II classification, which would result in a second degree felony, punishable by one to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 (first degree felony if a repeat offense).