Suspect allegedly says she was hiding Christmas gifts in purse when caught shoplifting

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

ST. GEORGE — A St. George woman was arrested for allegedly stealing a number of items from a grocery store in St. George, telling officers she was hiding the items in her purse not to steal them, but to keep the purchase a secret from her friend until Christmas.

On Sunday evening, officers were dispatched to Smith’s Food and Drug on Mall Drive on a report of a retail theft taking place inside of the store shortly after 8 p.m. Officers arrived and spoke to one of the managers who pointed to two women who were still inside of the store and told police both had been shoplifting, according to the probable cause statement filed in support of the arrest. 

Officers also learned that one of the women, later identified as 31-year-old Saryssa Breann Sagendorf, had reportedly made several trips to the store and had “stolen items every time she came in,” the officer recounted in the report. 

The manager went on to tell officers that with each trip, the suspect was seen entering the store carrying a “flat purse” and was then seen placing items inside of the purse as she walked through the store. 

The suspect was at self-checkout when she was confronted by officers, who advised the suspect she was seen placing merchandise in her purse by store employees, items she failed to pay for. 

Sagendorf told the officers she did have items inside of her purse, but instead of stealing the merchandise, she stated she was hiding them from the person she was shopping with because they were Christmas presents and she did not want the woman to see them. 

When the officer asked the suspect to remove the items that she failed to pay for, Sagendorf pulled out two pairs of slippers and a ceramic cup. During a later search of the bag, officers also found three cans of food. 

The officer advised the suspect that even if she “intended” to purchase the items, she was still not allowed to conceal them in her purse. 

When asked, the suspect told officers she had no identification on her but provided them with a different name and date of birth, which could not be confirmed through a records check. After multiple attempts with no success, officers asked the suspect a number of times to identify herself or provide them with an ID card, and she responded by saying “she could not remember where her identification was,” the report states. 

Saryssa Breann Sagendorf, 31, of St. George, booking photo taken In Washington County, Utah, Nov. 29, 2020 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

A store employee was able to identify the suspect as Sara Sagendorf a short time later, and officers were able to obtain the suspect’s full name and correct date of birth through a background check, which also revealed three active warrants for the woman’s arrest, one of which involved a case filed in February after police received a report of a retail theft at Walmart on Pioneer Road in St. George.

In that case, store employees told responding officers that a woman was seen concealing smaller items taken off of the store shelves inside larger items, and they also witnessed the suspect switching price tags, explaining that the suspect replaced the price tag of a full-price item with one taken from one that was discounted. 

The store employee also showed officers a case of energy drinks with a $1 price tag that was placed over the barcode, along with other items that had similar discounted stickers affixed to them. Surveillance footage also showed the suspect scanning the discounted stickers on the computer screen in the self-checkout line. 

When officers spoke to the suspect, who was in the store’s loss prevention office when they arrived, she identified herself as Stephanie Soto and provided a different date of birth. When the name was run through emergency dispatch, they could not locate anyone with that name in the system. The suspect then gave officers a second name, which also came back as a nonfound. And when officers reminded the suspect that giving false information was a crime, the suspect told police she was newly married and that her maiden name was Sagendorf. 

Officers also learned that the value of the items totaled more than $185, according to the report, and the suspect was taken into custody and transported to jail facing misdemeanor theft. Once the case was filed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office, according to court records, the offense was upgraded to a third-degree felony, due to the suspect’s criminal history that included multiple cases and convictions for similar crimes. 

Another warrant also issued in November involved the theft of more than $3,800 in jewelry that was stolen from a residence in Hurricane in 2017. In that case, the suspect told officers she was given the jewelry to sell and denied taking anything from the residence. 

Months later, the suspect entered the drug court program, but court records reveal that after a series of hearings and multiple warrants, including the warrant she was arrested on Sunday, were issued in the case that is still open in the courts. 

In the recent case, the suspect remains in custody on $5,400 bail. No further details were available on the second suspect referred to in the incident at the grocery store and Sagendorf was the only individual arrested following the incident. 

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

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