ST. GEORGE – While one woman is in police custody Sunday for her role in a spree of vehicle burglaries and credit card fraud cases throughout Washington County, police are actively seeking information regarding the whereabouts of her alleged accomplice who fled from police Sunday afternoon.
The St. George Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating 35-year-old Joshua Richards, of St. George, seen driving a newer model silver or grey Volkswagen Jetta with Nevada license plate 661 LTZ.
Richards has significant criminal history and suspected gang ties, and police are advising the public to use caution if he is spotted.
St. George Police officers were conducting follow-up Sunday in regards to several vehicle burglaries that occurred over the weekend, St. George Police Sgt. Spencer Holmes said.
One of the vehicle burglary incidents involved a silver Volvo parked in a church parking lot that had its window smashed in and credit cards stolen from inside the vehicle around 7:30 p.m. Friday, Holmes said.
Within two hours of the incident, the vehicle burglary suspects had already used the stolen credit cards at three locations in Washington County, including Game Stop, Pro Image and the Washington City Wal-Mart.
Holmes said surveillance footage was instrumental in identifying Richards as the suspect, as well as identifying the vehicle Richards was driving – a silver Volkswagen Jetta.
Just before 3:30 p.m. Sunday, the silver Jetta was located in the parking lot of Gen X clothing store, located at 2696 Pioneer Road in St. George.
When Richards spotted officers, he got into the silver Jetta and fled the area, heading south towards the SunRiver development at a high rate of speed, Holmes said. Due to heavy traffic in the area and safety concerns, officers did not pursue.
When he fled, Richards left behind a woman, identified as 20-year-old Jesse Edmiston, who was with Richards at the store, Holmes said. When officers went to question Edmiston, she fled on foot through the parking lot but was apprehended and placed under arrest after a short foot pursuit.
Holmes said Edmiston was involved in the previous credit card fraud incident and was in the process of committing another credit card fraud when officers located her.
“Some property was found on her that led officers to inquire about additional vehicle burglaries,” Holmes said. “One of them had not even been reported or discovered by the victim yet. And that was at a hotel just one exit up at the Hilton Garden Inn.”
Edmiston was transported to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility and charged with 11 third-degree felonies, seven class A misdemeanors and two class B misdemeanors for multiple theft and fraud charges in addition to failing to stop at the command of the police. Her bail pending trial stands at $69,795.
Be on the lookout
Neither Richards nor the silver Jetta he was driving had been located as of Monday morning.
Richards is a suspect in multiple vehicle burglaries and credit card fraud cases and the St. George Police Department is asking the public’s help in locating him. Anyone with information regarding Richards’ whereabouts is asked to contact the St. George Police Department at 435-627-4300.
“He is a local person with local ties here,” Holmes said. “He’s also a documented gang member. He has extensive involvement with our police agencies in the area, so use caution when dealing with him or if you locate him and identify him. He’s prone to violence and theft and he does have drug involvements in the area.”
St. George Police are also asking any other potential vehicle burglary victims to report the incident so they might tie the cases together.
“It would be nice to identify any other cars that he hit,” Holmes said, “or any other people that have had their stuff stolen.”
Don’t be the next victim
When Edmiston was apprehended, police discovered she was in possession of items stolen from another smash-and-grab vehicle burglary that occurred Sunday in the parking lot of the Hilton Garden Inn, located at 1731 S. Convention Center Drive in St. George.
The window of the vehicle was broken in the middle of the day, and a purse was stolen from inside the vehicle.
“It’s very common for people to leave their wallets and purses in vehicles,” Holmes said. “The second those things are stolen, people try to use the debit and credit cards right away before the victims realize the stuff’s stolen.”
Holmes stressed the importance of not leaving valuable items inside vehicles, or to at least keep them out of sight.
“My only advice is don’t keep any valuables in your car,” he said. “People will take what is easiest to obtain and it’s very common for people to take stuff out of unlocked cars but if there’s a big, bulky mom purse, you know, with a wallet hanging out of it, it’s nothing for them to smash a window too – even in the middle of the day.”
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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