UTAH COUNTY, Utah, Nov. 20, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — What began as a traffic stop for an equipment violation last week ended up with three suspects in custody on multiple felony charges.
The simple stop led to the arrest of three suspects investigators say were stealing vehicles and trailers, and then storing them in a remote location in Cedar Valley with the plan of moving them to a 40-acre lot in Arizona where they would likely be stripped and sold for parts.
Suspects Tyler Ferguson, 44, Spanish Fork; Zachary Lon Durrant, 44, Payson; and Tamara Mikol Bookhout, 51, Payson, all face identical charges of:
- Receive or transfer stolen vehicle, a second-degree felony
- Vehicle parts without identification number, a third-degree felony
- Vessel/motor in possession with reason to believe stolen, a third degree felony
- Possession of a controlled substances, a class A misdemeanor
- Use or possession of drug paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor
- Using plates registered to another vehicle, a class C misdemeanor
The traffic stop was conducted Saturday, Nov. 14. by a deputy from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
“I conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for an equipment violation and found the trailer it was towing was stolen and the VIN number had been partially obliterated and it had a registration sticker from another vehicle on it,” the deputy’s report says.
“The driver was identified as Tyler Ferguson and he was found to have active warrants. Ferguson did not have a valid drivers license and was an alcohol restricted driver with an ignition interlock device requirement. Ferguson did not have ignition interlock device and was found to have an open container of alcohol in the center console. Ferguson tested positive for alcohol,” the deputy wrote.
A vehicle search turned up drug paraphernalia, a forged Social Security card, and a birth certificate belonging to someone else, the statement says. The license plate on the truck was issued for a different vehicle, according to the statemen.
After being taken to jail, Ferguson allegedly told deputies about a Soldiers Pass campsite he had with Bookhout, where he said other stolen vehicles were located.
“I located the camp with numerous vehicles and trailers and Ferguson’s girlfriend who was identified as Tamara Bookhout,” the deputy said. Zachary Durrant was also arrested, along two others who have not been charged, he added.
“Zachary Durrant was inside of a truck that was hooked up to a trailer pulling a car and the engine was running. The truck was verified as being stolen and matched the license plate that Ferguson had been caught with on the 14th.”
Also at the camp, officers say they found a burned-out truck missing registration decals that were found to be on another vehicle. Another stolen vehicle was found, as were a trailer and a truck missing their VIN numbers. Tools verified as stolen were also found, according to the statement.
“Admissions were made from the individuals present, that Tyler Ferguson had been the one who had brought the majority of the items, vehicles to this location stating they were ‘leap frogging’ the vehicles to a location in Arizona where Ferguson had purchased 40 acres. Durrant advised he had assisted in transporting many of the items, and admitted he had other vehicles and property items at a location in Nephi.”
A Juab County deputy responded to that site, and found a truck stolen from Eagle Mountain in July, along with other items that may have been stolen, the statement says.
Durrant was found to have some methamphetamine and other drug paraphernalia in his jacket, the statement said. Bookhout was also found to have some methamphetamine and paraphernalia in her wallet, according to investigators.
“They all advised they were in the process of leaving the state to move to Arizona,” the probable cause statement says.
Utah County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Spencer Cannon told Gephardt Daily that a week into the investigation, detectives still have far more questions than answers.
Cannon said he does not know how many vehicles and trailers are involved, or how much stolen property was recovered in the case, and officers’ reports are not yet complete. But just finding the owners of the vehicles and getting those returned, which will take some time, would be the tip of the iceberg.
“With something like this, they’re trying to figure out if this is just a group of people trying to support a drug habit, or is it an organized chop-shop, where there’s no drug habit, and are they just jerks,” Cannon said.
More people are likely to be arrested, Cannon said.
“It was a formal, active group with a lot of people involved,” he said. “We just don’t know where it’s going to end. We will follow it as far as it will take us, until we hit dead ends, and we don’t know when that will be.”
And with the arrest of some and the release of other apparent participants, the word is out, and those involved may make themselves harder to find, Cannon said.
“When people involved become aware game is up, they’re going to skedaddle.”