Man jailed after wrecking stolen garbage truck while trashed

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Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: A Vista Recycling sanitation truck like this one pictured dumping at the landfill was reportedly stolen from the business’ yard and crashed into a farm field ditch in Pima.

By Jon Johnson

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PIMA – Safford officers tracked a stolen Vista Recycling garbage truck to Pima and apprehended a suspect after receiving a call from his mother. 

Tyler Sawyer, 26, of Pima, was arrested Monday and booked into the Graham County Adult Detention Facility on charges of theft of means of transportation, criminal damage, two counts of burglary in the third degree, and criminal trespassing.

According to a Safford Police report, the charges stem from the theft of a Vista Recycling sanitation truck (valued at $150,000) from its yard at 803 S. 3rd Ave. and causing a preliminary estimate of $10,000 in damage to the yard. 

Officers were initially dispatched at about 6:43 p.m. to the area after a bystander called police and reported seeing a garbage truck run into a fence. The caller said he followed the truck for a bit and last saw it eastbound on Relation Street. 

An officer arrived at Vista Recycling’s yard and located a damaged fence and a missing truck. Surveillance video obtained from the business showed a white male wearing a black and red hoodie with a black hat and jeans with white shoes attempting to enter the business. The video eventually shows the suspect enter a garbage truck and back into a parked F350 work truck, pushing it into a fence. The truck was then seen leaving the business southbound on 3rd Avenue. 

At about 7:39 p.m. a Vista Recycling sanitation truck was reported wrecked in a farm field ditch in Pima in the area of Main Street and 1200 South. Law enforcement secured the area and collected evidence, including footprints left on the driver’s side of the crashed vehicle. The truck reportedly had significant damage due to the crash. Still, there was no sign of any suspect.  

Then, at about 8:29 p.m., Graham County Dispatch received a call from a woman regarding her son Tyler Sawyer’s welfare. She said Sawyer appeared to be either intoxicated or on some type of drug as he had passed out in a field in the area of 1200 South and 200 West. The caller reported Sawyer then fell repeatedly upon regaining consciousness.

Officers responded to the area but Sawyer had left by their arrival. The Safford Police Department then utilized a department-issue aerial drone and searched from the skies over Pima. 

Shortly after its launch, Safford Captain Tyler Cluff located a possible suspect hiding in some brush off 800 South and directed units on land to his position. The person of interest hiding from the drone was taken into custody but it was soon learned that he was not involved in the garbage truck theft and was hiding because he had been drinking alcohol while on probation. After Graham County Probation was informed of the situation that person was released.  

A Pima officer then advised that he had found Sawyer in a trailer hiding under a sleeping bag. When apprehended, Sawyer was visibly intoxicated and was wearing the same articles of clothing as in the surveillance video of the theft.  

Sawyer was medically cleared at Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center and was then booked into jail.    

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Local News Archives – The Gila Herald , 2024-04-04 20:23:13
Categories: Local News,Criminal Damage,Pima,Safford,theft,Vista Recycling
Tags: Criminal Damage,Pima,Safford,theft,Vista Recycling

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