Man arrested after officers allegedly find him sleeping amid stolen goods near burglarized shop

Stock image for illustrative purposes only | Photo by Oleksandr Filon/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A man accused of breaking into a comic book store in St. George was arrested after police allegedly found him asleep near stolen merchandise.

Stock image for illustrative purposes. | Photo by Vershinin/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Shortly after 1 p.m. officers were dispatched to the comic book store on St. George Boulevard on a report of a business burglary and arrived to find the shop’s glass door shattered. Officers determined the glass was shattered by a large rock about 10-inches in diameter found lying on the floor.

A display case near the entrance was also damaged as if struck by a hard object, and evidence indicated the suspect went through the case in search of specific items. The owner told police the display had been full of various sports collector’s cards when he left the night before that were now missing.

While processing the scene, officers also learned that a pickup truck parked nearby had presumably been broken into, when they found the driver’s side window broken and the contents of the vehicle scattered across the floorboards and on the ground nearby. Investigators also found droplets of what appeared to be dried blood in the cab of the truck.

In a maintenance room toward the rear of the business complex, investigators found significant damage to the wiring and electrical boxes.

Police reportedly found shoe print marks on many of the entrance doors to the other businesses located near the store, as well as a print found on the top side of a dumpster located on the northwest corner of the commercial complex, which investigators believe was left there when the suspect used the dumpster to climb over the wall separating the shops to the north.

The probable cause statement written in support of the arrest states that the footprints on the glass doors as well as those found on the dumpster appeared to have been made with the same shoe.

Stock image for illustrative purposes. | Photo by Claudiodivizia/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Meanwhile, officers circulating the area located a man sleeping behind one of the dumpsters on the southeast side of a second commercial complex near the comic book store. They notified detectives when they allegedly found a number of sports collector’s cards in plain view and littered across the ground where the man was sleeping.

The suspect, 44-year-old Gerald Spencer Turner, was found leaning against the dumpster. Upon closer inspection, investigators noticed the man had several small lacerations on his left hand that appeared to be “fairly fresh,” police noted in the report.

While speaking to detectives, the suspect allegedly said he used a rock to break into the comic book store and that he had taken some sports cards. According to the report, he denied cutting his hand on the glass while breaking into the store, telling officers he did not strike the glass with his hand but used the rock to shatter the glass to gain entry into the store. When asked, the suspect said he “did not recall” going through any maintenance rooms.

During a search of the Turner’s property, detectives allegedly recovered a pair of shoes that were consistent with the prints found on the glass entrance doors along the complex near the comic book shop – shoes the suspect admitted were his and were collected as evidence, according to police.

The suspect was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility and was booked on multiple charges, including third-degree felony burglary. He also faces two counts of criminal mischief for the damage to the electrical boxes and wiring in the maintenance room, as well as two counts of theft and one count of vehicle burglary – each a misdemeanor.

The report states that the comic book shop sustained as much as $800 in damages, as well as an estimated $1,000 in merchandise that was taken during the incident. There was also approximately $1,000 in damages to the electrical boxes located in the maintenance room, as well as the damage and items missing from the pickup truck.

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.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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