Among the $200,000 of stolen goods recovered by police from a theft ring here is a small vial holding the remains of a cremated human body.
"It's awful sad it would just be thrown around like this," said Heber Police Capt. Dan Henley, holding the brown box. "They probably took it, thinking it was something else and ended up with someone's loved one."The urn is just one of the items sitting in a Heber storage unit that Wasatch Sheriff Mike Spanos wants to return to a rightful owner. Listed among the property stockpiled from what Wasatch and Utah counties' police believe was a yearlong fencing operation are truck tires, construction material, hardware, power tools, potato chips and cases of booze.
Law officials from Heber, Wasatch and Utah counties unveiled the items Monday, hoping the public will claim goods suspected to have been stolen from homes, garages and construction sites.
"We have a lot of stolen property we need to get back to owners. They can get it back if they can identify it," Spanos said, adding that most serial numbers have been wiped or scratched off.
Acting on a tip, police began investigating a Heber man in connection with a string of burglaries in the two adjacent counties a few months ago.
Police found a cache of reportedly stolen material at storage units rented in the suspect's name after gathering enough evidence to obtain search warrants, Spanos said.
"It was amazing the amount of stolen property we were finding," he said. "They were stealing everything. Even pegs from the ground. These guys were the most brazen I have ever seen."
The reported racketeering ring was not a unique situation. Police believe the suspect would buy stolen goods with cash or drugs and then sell the items at a higher price than he initially paid.
"His name was tied into every search we made," Spanos said.
The suspects would work through paging and cell-phone services to establish contacts. Several establishments also were frequented by involved parties, some of whom have not yet been identified, Spanos said.
Scott Leinbach, 37, Heber, was arrested and booked into jail two weeks ago for investigation of racketeering and possession of stolen property. He now is being held at the Wasatch County Jail on a charge of possession of methamphetamine.
Five others have been arrested in connection with the ring, Spanos said.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of the alleged ring can call a Wasatch County hotline to describe the missing property. The number is 435-654-1411.