ST. GEORGE – A St. George woman was arrested Monday in connection with the alleged theft of five vehicles from from Munoz Auto Sales, a used car dealership located at 99 W. St. George Boulevard in St. George, sometime during the holiday weekend.
Officers found Maria Deana Norush, 48, sleeping in the driver’s seat of a car parked in the St. George City parking structure, located at 20 North Main St., while patrolling the area at around 1 a.m. Monday, St. George Police Officer Stacy Richan said in the probable cause statement filed in connection with the arrest.
See videocast at the top of the story, click the play arrow in the center.
After making contact with Norush and checking her information, officers discovered she had two outstanding warrants for her arrest and a suspended driver’s license, according to the statement. Police also discovered the dealer plate on the car she was sleeping in was listed as stolen.
“(Norush) stated that she was just waiting for a friend named ‘Chris’ and that Chris had dropped the car off at her house earlier in the evening,” Richan said in the statement said. “(Norush) said she was to meet Chris at the parking structure.”
While officers were talking with Norush, a brown Ford F-150 truck drove through the parking garage, and then took off after seeing police, according to the statement.
After placing Norush under arrest for the warrants and stolen license plate, officers located drugs and drug paraphernalia on her person, St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said.
During a search of the car, officers found a “large cluster of car keys” which all appeared to be from a dealership, the statement said. Police then noticed two other cars parked near where Norush was parked. Neither of the cars had license plates on them and both were discovered to be from Munoz Auto Sales.
Contact was made with Munoz Auto Sales owner Hector Munoz who identified all three cars as belonging to his dealership, and said they had all been stolen, according to the statement.
The investigation also revealed other stolen property from the car dealership, Despain said, including several license plates and their registrations. Officers went to Munoz Auto Sales and discovered the dealership had been broken into.
Washington City Police were able to locate an additional stolen vehicle, Despain said. However, they were not able to locate the driver of that vehicle.
Officers pursued the driver who abandoned the stolen vehicle and fled on foot.
“There was a short pursuit,” Despain said. “The vehicle went into the desert, got stuck and the driver fled.”
“There is still one outstanding stolen vehicle from Munoz Auto,” Despain said, but did not specify the vehicle make and model. “We do not believe that (Norush) was working alone; this case is still active as detectives work to locate others who are associated with this case.”
Norush was booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility. She was charged with two second-degree felonies for theft by receiving stolen property and drug possession; one class A misdemeanor for possession of drug paraphernalia; and a class B misdemeanor for theft by receiving stolen property. Her bail for release pending trial stands at $22,630.
According to Utah court documents, the warrants issued for Norush’s arrest stem from failing to appear in court on drug-related charges from April 2014 and aggravated assault charges from September 2014.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Videocast contributed by Melissa Anderson for St. George News and KCSG Television.
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