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Vernal police ID suspect in high-dollar business burglaries

Published: Friday, Feb. 22 2013 3:23 p.m. MST

VERNAL — Police have identified a suspect in at least two burglaries, based in part on leads generated by a $10,000 reward offered by the victims.

Joshua Lee Hooper is not yet facing formal charges, but Vernal police detective Shaun Smith said the paperwork has been filed to obtain a warrant for his arrest.

Hooper, 26, of Vernal, is suspected of burglarizing B & C Quick Test with another man on Jan. 19.

"Based on the evidence we have, they spend at least eight hours inside the business," Smith said.

The men stole thousands of dollars in tools, computers and fire-resistant clothing, as well as two .22-caliber rifles and a digital video recorder that was tied to the surveillance system, Smith said.

All of the loot was loaded into one of the company's service trucks, which was also taken.

"They got the keys somehow, hooked onto the front gates with a chain and ripped the gates open and left," said Christi Cook, who owns the B & C Quick Test with her husband, Brett.

It was the third major theft the company had suffered in less than a year, prompting the couple to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Once the reward was publicized, the phone started ringing.

"The person that called, you know, he wouldn't give us his name or who he was or where he was," Brett Cook said.

The caller did, however, tell Cook where he could find the stolen truck.

"He found it in the crevice of a mountain about three miles outside of town," Smith said.

Police combed through the vehicle for more than eight hours, collecting evidence. That evidence led to the execution of three search warrants, which helped detectives identify Hooper as a suspect in the case, Smith said.

Court records show Hooper has a history of convictions for burglary and assault. Police believe he is responsible for two of the break-ins at B & C Quick Test, but don't think he was working alone.

"We do have a couple of leads on one additional person at this time," Smith said, identifying that individual only as a "person of interest."

Hooper is 6 feet tall and weighs 165 pounds. He has brown hair, blue eyes and is believed to be in the Ogden area. Anyone with information about where he is should call their local law enforcement agency or 911.

E-mail: gliesik@desnews.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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