By Ed Pruneau
Missourian Managing Editor
Law enforcement officers used a tracking device to follow a suspect and recover some items in a two-state stolen equipment investigation which culminated Wednesday with the man’s arrest in Franklin County.
The suspect, Jessie S. Urias, 34, Compton, Calif., is charged in a Franklin County warrant with one count of receiving stolen property. He was being held in the county jail on a $50,000 cash-only bond.
Prosecuting Attorney Bob Parks said he expects the investigation to be expanded in the coming weeks. He said he was told that the FBI likely will become involved because stolen property was taken across state lines.
“I know this will turn into a larger investigation, I just don’t know all the details,” Parks told The Missourian.
The felony complaint alleges that Urias, “with the purpose to deprive the owner of a skid steer, tandem trailer and hydraulic hammer, received or retained such property, of a value of at least $25,000, knowing or believing that it had been stolen.”
The charges stem from an investigation headed by the Metro East Auto Task Force and the Missouri Highway Patrol into missing rental equipment, valued at more than $38,000, belonging to Sunbelt Rentals of Granite City, Ill.
According to a probable cause statement filed in court, a man who identified himself as John Patterson reserved the equipment from the Granite City business May 31, and it was picked up later that day by a man who identified himself as Sam Dumont.
The company notified authorities after the property was not returned by June 8, the deadline on the rental agreement.
Then last Tuesday, Aug. 20, a man using the same name of John Patterson contacted Sunbelt Rentals in St. Charles, Mo., and reserved equipment valued at $40,000. The man gave an account number for a construction project in Wentzville, according to the probable cause statement.
Officials with the rental company became suspicious because of the previous incident and contacted the auto task force.
Officers placed the business under surveillance and planted a GPS tracking device on the rented equipment which was picked up by a man who identified himself as Carlos Rodriguez.
Authorities said the suspect did not drive to Wentzville but instead headed to St. Louis County, then drove west on Interstate 44.
The man, identified as Urias, was arrested when his truck became disabled and he stopped at Pacific to make repairs.During questioning, Urias initially said he was driving for a friend and was taking the equipment to Springfield, Mo.
Authorities said Urias had a fraudulent California identification card issued to Carlos Rodriguez but with Urias’ photo.