Suspect with criminal history spanning 3 decades arrested on burglary warrant

Stock image | Photo by Barbol88/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A Santa Clara man charged in a string of storage unit burglaries in September 2018 was arrested on a warrant Wednesday in St. George, adding to more than 30 cases for the suspect with a criminal history that dates back more than three decades.

Ward Sidney Lee, 50, of Santa Clara, booking photo taken in Washington County, Utah, Jan. 21, 2020 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Ward Lee, 50, was arrested by St. George Police on a warrant issued in October out of 5th District Court after he failed to appear for a hearing involving three third-degree felony counts of burglary and a felony theft charge, along with misdemeanor gun and criminal mischief charges.

The original charges stem from an incident originally reported at the beginning of September when officers were dispatched to a storage facility to investigate a report that multiple storage units had been broken into.

Through the course of the investigation, officers determined that more than $300 in property had been taken from at least three of the units, including a Honda generator. Police were provided with photographs of the suspects, as well as the vehicle they were in.

Police also obtained video footage that showed two men pull into the facility.

Officers were able to identify one of the two suspects as Lee but were unable to locate him for questioning until two weeks later when officers on patrol spotted his vehicle  traveling east on Tabernacle.

The officers followed the car and eventually stopped the vehicle on  St George Boulevard. While speaking with Lee, the officer noticed he was wearing the same Detroit Tigers hat that was seen in the surveillance footage. Officers were able to make a positive identification based on a tattoo on his left arm.

Lee was transported to the police department for questioning, and according to police, the suspect admitted to the break-ins, telling officers he cut the locks off two of the units while an accomplice cut the lock off the third.

He also said he was extremely “strung out on dope” and could not remember what was taken; however, he stated he remember grabbing something that was really heavy, which turned out to be the Honda generator.

He also said they took the property to a residence in St. George where they traded the items for drugs.

During the booking process, officers discovered that Lee had multiple previous convictions for theft burglaries, aggravated assault and being in possession of a dangerous weapon. Lee’s criminal history includes more than 30 cases and a number of prison sentences dating back to at least 1988, according to information found in court and arrest records.

No charges were enhanced at that point, the officer wrote, but Lee was charged with being a category one person in possession of a dangerous weapon in addition to the burglary offenses.

Following his warrant arrest Wednesday, Lee remains in custody on $21,000 bail.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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