Man recently released from prison allegedly steals car in St. George

File photo for illustrative purposes only of police on the scene near St. George Boulevard in St. George, Utah, July 5, 2021 | File photo by Ammon Teare, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A suspect recently released from prison is back in jail facing several similar charges following investigation into a report of a vehicle stolen from a residence early Monday morning.

Stock image for illustrative purposes only of St. George Police patrol vehicle taken in St. George, Utah, March 11, 2021 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The incident started when officers responded to a report of a vehicle stolen from a residence in St. George where the caller said they had parked the vehicle in front of the residence, and when they awoke the next morning the keys were gone from inside the home and the car was gone as well.

The vehicle was later tracked to another area in St. George, but when officers attempted to stop the car, the suspect fled. Minutes later, officers found the car abandoned nearby. They also found shoe impressions near the vehicle and on an item located inside of the car.

Officers also found a birth certificate inside of the car that belonged a family member of the owner, who later told officers the document was taken from a purse located inside of the home.

Meanwhile, officers began receiving reports from three residents who told police there was a man who ran through their fenced-in yards.

Officers located and detained the suspect, who was identified as 40-year-old Rodney Ian Watkins. He was also identified by one of the officers as the one driving the stolen car earlier.

Investigators noted the tread pattern on the suspect’s shoes matched the pattern left near the vehicle, and a review of the suspect’s criminal history revealed multiple convictions for vehicle theft, burglary and other similar crimes.

2007 file photo of Utah State Prison, Draper, Utah, June 2007 | Public domain photo, St. George News

During an interview with police, the suspect allegedly said that he was in the general vicinity of where the vehicle was stolen but that he had no involvement in the incident.

Watkins was on parole on a 2019 case at the time of the arrest, one of more than 15 criminal cases filed against the suspect since 2016.

In that case, officers suspected Watkins of being involved in multiple vehicle thefts across St. George, including the theft of a vehicle from the front of a residence in July of that same year.

Another one of the vehicles reported as stolen was recovered by the Utah Highway Patrol with more than $16,400 in damage, primarily from the truck being stripped of its components.

Watkins was charged with felony theft and credit card offenses, and on July 28, 2020, he was sentenced to serve up to five years in Utah State Prison.

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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