ST. GEORGE — A man was arrested last Tuesday on S. Bluff Street after officers discovered that the car he was driving had been reported stolen out of Arizona.
Last Tuesday evening, a St. George Police officer, accompanied with a K9 officer, heading north on Bluff stopped a white Volkswagen Golf near 900 South for a seat belt violation, according to charging documents filed with the court.
The driver, later identified as 39-year-old Robert Dale Morland, advised the officer that his seatbelt was broken, which is why he wasn’t wearing it when the officer stopped him.
When asked, the suspect initially told police the vehicle belonged to a friend and “eventually” handed the title of the vehicle over to the officer, the report states.
The officer noticed that the title was signed over to a man who was not the driver, to which the suspect responded by allegedly saying the car was actually his and that he recently purchased it from a friend for $1.
The officer also noticed a temporary registration tag issued out of Arizona that was expired and then ran the vehicle identification number through emergency dispatch while additional officers responded to the scene to assist.
When backup arrived, the officer deployed his K-9 to conduct an exterior sniff around the car, which is when the animal reportedly indicated to the possible presence of narcotics from an odor coming from inside of the vehicle.
Based on the animal’s alert, officers began a systematic search of the car, during which the results of the VIN check on the vehicle came back and officers were advised by emergency dispatch that the car had been reported as stolen to the Lake Havasu Police Department.
At that point, the suspect was handcuffed while officers continued the search of the car and further follow-up with authorities in Lake Havasu.
During the search, officers recovered a wallet in the back pocket of the passenger’s seat. Inside the wallet, they found a state-issued identification card issued out of Arizona along with four debit and other miscellaneous cards, all of which was in another man’s name. Officers also noted the name on the cards matched the name on the vehicle title that was handed over to police when the car was stopped.
While speaking to authorities in Lake Havasu, officers learned the vehicle was reported as stolen a few days prior and the name on the stolen vehicle report matched the name on the bank cards found inside of the wallet.
The Volkswagen owner also reportedly told Arizona authorities that his car was stolen from a construction site and that his cell phone and wallet were inside the car at the time.
The report says that the man also reported that a suspect who possibly went by the name “Bobby” took the car. He described the suspect as a tall man with a medium build and a shaved head, and gave an approximate age, all of which matched the suspect stopped on S. Bluff Street, according to the report.
“The description provided a positive match with Robert (Morland) at the time of this incident,” the officer noted.
During questioning, the officer said he intentionally addressed the suspect as “Bobby,” a name the suspect allegedly acknowledged. The suspect then refused to answer any questions, the report states.
Morland was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility and booked into jail.
On Wednesday, the Washington County Attorney’s Office formally charged the suspect with second-degree felony possession of a stolen vehicle and four counts of unlawful acquisition of a financial card.
He was also charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of another’s identifying documents and a citation for not wearing a seat belt.
The suspect was scheduled to make an initial appearance in 5th District Court on Friday.
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits the release of arrest booking photos until after a conviction is obtained.
This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. 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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