BY MELINDA WILLIAMS
Clipper Staff Writer
CENTERVILLE – Lesson for anyone not wanting to be caught by police – don’t park next to a police car.
That lesson was learned the hard way Saturday night by two Californians who allegedly were driving a stolen car that police say contained several forged documents and checks, as well as drugs and drug paraphernalia.
The arrest happened as one of Centerville Police Department’s Problem-Oriented Police Officers was patrolling Walmart’s parking lot about midnight on Saturday, Nov. 30.
A black Chevrolet Impala pulled into the parking stall next to the officer, who was sitting in an unmarked patrol car, according to Centerville Assistant Police Chief Paul Child.
A man and a woman left the car and went into the store, and the officer decided to run a check on the license plate. It came back as having been stolen from Bakersfield, Calif., Child said.
The officer called for backup. When help arrived, they waited for the couple to come out of the store.
Initially only the man came out and he moved the car closer to a store exit. A few minutes later the woman came out and they both got into the car. It was then police arrested them, Child said.
Sabrina Anne Gatson, 34, and Robert Earl Whitchurch, 27, both of Bakersfield were taken into custody without incident, Child said. Officers allegedly discovered Whitchurch had a no-bail felony warrant out of California for absconding, Child said.
Police say that Gatson allegedly tried to purchase items in the Walmart using a forged check.
Officers searched the car and allegedly found stolen mail, several forged documents, including stolen checks, identifications not belonging to the pair and a methamphetamine pipe.
The mail found in the car was intended for postal customers in Utah, Idaho and Colorado, Child said. There was also allegedly evidence of an account being established at a Salt Lake area jewelry store using stolen identification and more than $4,000 worth of jewelry allegedly purchased on the account.
Child said Gatson allegedly rented the car using stolen identification.
Gatson was booked into the Davis County Jail on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, three counts of possession of another’s identifying documents, and two counts of possession of forged documents.
Whitchurch was booked into jail on suspicion of possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and three counts of possessing another’s identifying documents.
Child said from the items recovered, it appears the two have been involved in a number of vehicle burglaries in several states.
The couple had a small dog in the car that was taken by Davis County Animal Control. Child said it appears the two had been living in the car since renting it on Oct. 31.