Suspect caught in Main Street break-in |

Suspect caught in Main Street break-in

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Park City Police Department arrested a burglary suspect in Old Town early Thursday morning, claiming that he broke into a store in the Main Street Mall.

The police said Luke Menders, who is 21 years old and from the Snyderville Basin, might have broken into a nearby business as well. He faces three preliminary charges stemming from the Wednesday break-in, the most serious a second-degree felony theft count. He had been wanted on three warrants related to retail-theft cases, Phil Kirk, a police captain, said.

The Summit County Jail was holding Menders early Friday. Bail is set at $25,500. Formal charges had not been filed by early Friday.

According to Kirk, a burglar alarm was tripped at Park City Clothing Co. inside the mall at approximately 2:20 a.m. Officer Marty Howard quickly arrived at the Main Street side of the mall and saw Menders. Howard trailed the suspect to the Old Town staircase on the upper stretch of Main Street.

Kirk said Menders climbed the stairs past Park Avenue and onto Woodside Avenue. Howard caught him on Woodside Avenue close to the stairs and arrested him without incident, the captain said.

He had 14 belts taken from Park City Clothing Co. when he was caught, Kirk said, describing them as a "whole bunch of expensive belts." He said they are worth nearly $2,000 combined, but the owner of the store, Doug Hollinger, indicated they are valued at between $4,000 and $5,000.

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Meanwhile, somebody broke into the nearby offices of Mountain Property Management overnight, a person with the firm and the police said. Kirk said there is a "strong possibility" that the break-ins are connected. Kirk said the person smashed a front-door window at the property-management firm and stole an undisclosed amount of money.

Kirk said the police are investigating whether more people were involved.

The clothing store’s owner said the belts will be returned, but Hollinger said some might be damaged. According to Hollinger, the perpetrator broke into the store with brute force. He said a lock connecting the door to the floor failed under the stress, a scenario he expected to be less likely than someone smashing through the window on the door to get inside.

Hollinger said the person ignored high-priced leather coats and expensive jeans in favor of the belts. One shirt was also taken, he said.

"He grabbed handfuls of expensive belts," Hollinger said, calling the case a "pretty big surprise."

Upon conviction, the second-degree felony theft charge carries a potential prison sentence of between 1 and 15 years and a $10,000 fine.

The authorities had wanted him on three warrants, with at least one of them issued from 3rd District Court at Silver Summit.

According to court records, Menders in late 2008 pleaded guilty to a charge of retail theft as part of a bargain with prosecutors. Under the agreement, the prosecutors dismissed a charge of providing false information to a police officer. He did not attend a scheduled Feb. 2 sentencing, and an arrest warrant was issued.

The police received 334 theft complaints and 87 burglary reports in 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available.