This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Bold burglars broke into the Blanding Police Department and stole drugs and guns from the department's evidence locker.
The stolen weapons, meanwhile, all have been recovered found by authorities as far away as Salt Lake City.
Blanding Police Chief Lyle Bayles said that early Monday at least one thief broke a rear window and entered the police department armed with a power grinder to breech the metal evidence door. The thief, who was in the building for less than 15 minutes, headed straight to the evidence locker and stole about 46 pounds of marijuana, nine handguns, a cellphone and a small amount of peyote, Bayles said.
By Friday afternoon, five people had been arrested in connection with the thefts, and 11 guns were seized, along with stolen narcotics.
Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Altenes said two of the stolen weapons were discovered Thursday morning when two 21-year-old men were stopped for speeding on Interstate 15 in the Salt Lake City area. In addition to finding the guns, troopers seized about 5 pounds of marijuana, cocaine and prescription medication, he said.
"[The stop] turned into quite a treasure trove," Altenes said.
The traffic stop also yielded a list of other suspects believed to be involved in the thefts, authorities said.
Cedar City Police Sgt. JR Robinson said officers executed a search warrant late Thursday at a home in Enoch and recovered the rest of the stolen guns and some of the drugs. He said officers seized nine guns and about 20 pounds of marijuana. Officers arrested three people who live in the Cedar City area" Robinsonsaid.
He said Cedar City investigators initially learned of the police department theft while investigating an automobile burglary near the Fiddlers Canyon area.
Bayles said because the thefts happened at the police department, the San Juan County Sheriff's Office was investigating the matter.
Sheriff's officials did not return calls seeking comment on the theft and their investigation.
Bayles said all the stolen items were among evidence from cases that had already been adjudicated.
Robinson said the weapons and drugs his department recovered would remain in Cedar City police custody for the time being because it is now evidence in a new criminal matter.
"We have our own crimes with that evidence now," he said. "We'll retain it for our prosecution, and we'll give it back as quick as we can."
Bayles said charges are pending against the alleged thieves in Salt Lake, San Juan and Iron counties.