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7 arrested in theft scheme

Jose Gurule (left), Pam Thompson Gurule (center) and Shelly Buchanan (right)

Sun Advocate reporter

The Carbon County Sheriff's Office has arrested seven suspects on felony counts involving the robbery of more than $100,000 worth of railroad track belonging to the Utah Railway Co.

On Aug. 28, sheriff's deputies were dispatched to Gordon Creek/Pinnacle Peak amid reports that several people were taking pieces of rail from the railroad's Hiawatha line. Investigation revealed that tons of rail and other metal materials were stolen and then "scrapped" for what the sheriff's department described as a more than $10,000.

Following leads, Deputy Travis Henrie initiated a traffic stop on two vehicles matching the description of the cars involved with the theft.

A flatbed pickup occupied by driver Shelly Buchanan, 46, Helper and passenger Jason Avery, had numerous pieces of rail on the bed of the pickup, said a Carbon County Sheriff's release. The rail had been cut with a torch into pieces that could be more easily loaded into the truck for transport.

The occupants of the second vehicle were identified as Jose Gurule, 34, of Price and Pam Thompson-Gurule, 36, of Price.

With the assistance of Lt. Tory Christiansen, Detective Roger Taylor and Detective Mike Hreinson, interviews and a follow up investigation revealed that that rail had been allegedly taken from a remote location along the Utah Railway Hiawatha Railroad line. Buchanan, Gurule and Thompson-Gurule were arrested and booked into the Carbon County Jail on counts of theft and criminal mischief, each a third degree felony.

Additional arrests

As Carbon Sheriff's continued to investigate the case in conjunction with the Utah Railway, subsequent arrests were made on Guy Grant, 59, Helper, Robert Straley, 42, Helper, Brian Oliverson, 50, Price and William Wilson, 34, Price. All parties arrested in association with the case were then booked for theft and criminal mischief.

After the Aug. 28 arrests, it was discovered that material and equipment had been stolen from at least five separate locations associated with Utah Railway. The stolen items include track, disassembled and taken from the existing rail line, parts used during the installation of railroad and various associated equipment.

Utah Railway reported to the sheriff's office that their current losses total $108,000, a number that could increase as the investigation continues.

According to the sheriff's release, the suspects involved are stealing the material because of its value when they trade the metal to a recycling business for cash. The Utah Railway has reported that they are missing over 52 tons of material. It is estimated that the metal stolen has yielded over $10,000 for those involved.

"Thanks to the assistance we have received from citizens reporting this suspicious activity and the diligent investigation of the deputies, a large operation of scrapping illegally obtained metal has been severely impacted," said Chief Deputy Tom Stefanoff in the release.

Crimes in the county can be reported to dispatch at 637-0890 and the sheriffs can be called at 636-3251.

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