Metro-East News

Man tried to steal $17,000 UTV from Breese dealership, police say

Gary Scott Johnson
Gary Scott Johnson Provided

One visitor to Clinton County had a rough time during his stay, not only totaling his vehicle but also likely facing felony theft charges regarding a $17,000 utility terrain vehicle.

Breese police said the Peoria-area man was taken into custody Thursday morning after someone reported suspicious activity involving a utility vehicle behind the Knotty Pine motel.

Gary Johnson, 48, of Mapleton, was in custody pending felony theft charges, Breese Chief Robert Fix said Thursday afternoon.

Johnson was in Breese because he had been in a car accident the afternoon before, when he tried to pass another car, he told Clinton County sheriff’s deputies, and instead ran off the road. In that Wednesday afternoon crash, his car went off the road and came back onto the road, hitting another car in the process.

Johnson was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese, and his passenger was picked up by friends, Sgt. Dan Travous of the Sheriff’s Department said.

His vehicle was totaled; traffic charges against him were likely, police said.

After his release from the hospital, Johnson stayed at the Knotty Pine in Breese on Wednesday night, police said.

Chief Fix said Breese Police were called at about 7:20 a.m. Thursday by a resident who reported reported seeing unusual activity behind the motel. When police arrived, they found the man loading “miscellaneous items” into the utility vehicle, Fix said.

Police said the 2017 Polaris RZR, worth about $17,000, was stolen from Breese Lawn & Garden, a dealership located a couple of blocks to the east.

The man was being taken to the Clinton County Jail on Thursday afternoon, Fix said, and charges of felony theft were expected to be filed later.