Suspects abscond with robotic dinosaur devices worth thousands of dollars

Posted at 9:23 PM, Jan 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-29 23:23:18-05

WEST JORDAN, Utah -- They are expensive and rare , and several life-size robotic dinosaur costumes were stolen outside a West Jordan home Tuesday night.

But on Wednesday, the owner received a surprise phone call from police.

The trailer and the dinosaur costumes were found inside an auto repair unit in a Murray industrial area. There doesn't appear to be much damage, and the owner of the unit is one of three suspects police have in custody.

Now, Murray police are trying to determine if this was simply a crime of opportunity or if the thieves knew they were stealing something very unique.

FOX 13 News showed you the prehistoric puppets a couple weeks ago, pacing around the Leonardo Museum as Gov. Gary Herbert was presenting science awards. One is a T-Rex, the other is a velociraptor. Inside each one is an actor.

"His legs connect to the dinosaur and then from there, he can operate the dinosaur like it was a real life dinosaur," Owner Adam Kelley said. "He can control the head, movement, the eyes, the mouth, it roars."

As an internet ad shows, the dinosaurs are used at childrens' parties for the company Dino Media. Each dinosaur costs $7,000, and the two were in a marked trailer stolen from Adam Kelley's driveway in West Jordan.

"I was just shocked and couldn't believe it," Kelley said.

"This is a very brazen crime for someone to just pull up into somebody's driveway, hook up with their trailer, and just pull off with it," said Lt. Justin Hoyal of Unified Police Department.

But, just as police were putting the word out Wednesday, there was a turn of events at a Murray industrial park. A code enforcement officer discovered a stolen Jeep.

Cops arrested the female driver and the man she was with. He let police into a chop shop, where they found the trailer and the dinosaur costumes.

Sgt. Ross Huff of the Murray Police Department said they are still investigating to determine the details of the dinosaur theft.

"I'm not sure they knew what they were getting inside that trailer,” he said. “Quite often these thefts are to see what's inside, see if they can obtain something of value and what they can get out of it.”

By Wednesday night, police were working on a search warrant to scour the unit, but from what we could see, the trailer has some front-end damage. But, at least one of the two dinosaur puppets appears to be fine.

"I've been down all day, but once I got that phone call I was really relieved," Kelley said.

Police said they will look for other stolen property inside that Murray unit, and as of Wednesday night, the female suspect was booked into Salt Lake County Jail for possession of stolen property while the two male suspects were still being questioned.