ST. GEORGE — An Idaho couple’s alleged theft spree was cut short after a store employee at the mall became suspicious when one of the suspects was pushing an empty stroller while wearing merchandise she never paid for.

2021 file photo for illustrative purposes only of Red Cliffs Mall, St. George, Utah, Dec. 23, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

Officers responded shortly after 7 p.m. Monday to the Red Cliffs Mall following the report of a suspicious person at one of the stores. 

According to charging documents filed with the court, officers arrived and spoke to one of the store employees who told police there was a suspicious woman with red hair who was “possibly stealing clothing” and pushing a baby stroller, the officer noted in the report. 

The staff told officers the suspect “had a baby stroller with her but there did not appear to be a baby inside.” The woman was seen carrying new clothing into the dressing room, but when she exited, she was wearing different outfits.  

Officers spotted a woman, whose description matched the suspect, near the checkout counter and whose transaction was later declined for insufficient funds. 

She was identified as Tawny Raelynn Rodden, 44, of Idaho, and reportedly admitted to stealing merchandise from the Buckle store. She said she was “currently wearing the stolen property,” the officer noted. She also said she had a friend with her, and admitted the stroller was empty. 

Officers also learned that Rodden was at the mall with what the suspect said was a group of individuals who had planned to steal from multiple stores, the report alleges. 

The group consisted of the suspect’s boyfriend Dustin James Rinebarger, 43, also from Idaho. Both suspects were taken into custody by police. 

During a search of the suspect’s vehicle, officers reportedly recovered more than $3,000 in stolen merchandise, along with a number of ledgers with itemized lists detailing the property taken from each store, along with the value of the stolen merchandise. 

Rodden told officers that she and Rinebarger had traveled from their home in Idaho and had stolen from numerous stores along the way. The pair had taken high-value items, including purses, perfumes, expensive clothing, tools and so on.  Investigators determined that the couple “were intending on stealing from more stores in St George but were caught early on in the act.” 

Stock image | Photo courtesy of Wikipedia, St. George News

Officers recovered the stolen merchandise that Rodden was wearing at the time of her arrest, clothing she told police “she stole so she could give them to her daughter,” the officer noted. Investigators then discovered that Rodden had taken clothing from a children’s store without paying for the items, which she told officers she planned to give to one of her grandchildren. 

Officers also found make-shift distraction supplies that were already staged to use in the thefts, along with tools the couple used to further the scheme and avoid getting caught. Rodden told police she routinely used a tool designed to silence theft detection devices attached to the merchandise. 

As the search continued, officers recovered a glass jar with suspected methamphetamine inside, along with several plastic baggies containing suspected marijuana. They also recovered prescription medication that was not prescribed to either suspect, along with a number of glass pipes with suspected marijuana and methamphetamine residue. 

A records check indicated that Rodden had an active warrant issued out of 5th District Court in St. George in 2018 on a retail theft and drug case. The record also showed she lived in Hurricane when the prior cases were filed.

While speaking to police, Rodden admitted to having an extensive criminal history that included six prior theft convictions, as well as the active warrant on the theft case. Rodden later told officers she had just been released on an interstate compact from Idaho and was on probation. 

The suspects were booked into jail in Washington County shortly before 10:30 p.m., each facing multiple charges, including one third-degree felony count each of unlawful possession of a financial card and pattern of unlawful activity. They also face one count of criminal conspiracy and possession of paraphernalia. 

Additionally, Rinebarger faces two counts of possession of a controlled substance and two counts of retail theft, each a misdemeanor, while Rodden faces two felony theft charges and one count of possession of a controlled substance, also a felony, along with a theft control device charge.

Based upon Rodden’s extensive criminal history involving theft, drug and conspiracy cases, the officer requested that she be held without bail, citing that Rodden “has demonstrated that she has no remorse for her actions, and she survives by stealing from society and unlawfully obtaining money by selling stolen goods.” 

The request was approved and an order to hold the suspect without bail was signed by the judge.  The charges are under review at the Washington County Attorney’s Office and both suspects remain in jail at this time.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2024, all rights reserved.