Big Cottonwood Canyon car burglars busted

- BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A Salt Lake area couple is behind bars for allegedly burglarizing cars in Big Cottonwood Canyon while people went on hikes.

Lt. Justin Hoyal said several people reported their cars were broken into over the weekend. Witnesses described seeing a suspicious couple driving a blue SUV.

A car matching the description was pulled over on Cardiff Fork Road Tuesday evening, resulting in the arrests of Abel Mendoza and Melissa De Herrera.

Investigators found stolen items, drugs and drug paraphernalia inside the SUV.

Police said the couple likely targeted cars while hikers set out on a trail, which left their vehicles vulnerable to being broken into.

"We would always remind people to never leave valuables inside their car, " Hoyal said. "Leave your valuables at home. Make sure your cars are locked so that way it's a hard target for these suspects."

Mendoza and De Herrera are charged with possession of stolen property, vehicle burglary, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Hoyal said it would likely take several weeks to determine if the two are linked to the numerous car burglaries in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon and even Millcreek Canyon over the past several months.

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