Female crime duo investigated for nearly a dozen robberies in Utah
A 40-year-old woman already facing charges in a series of crimes throughout the Salt Lake Valley may have been involved in more than a half-dozen others for which charges have not been filed, according to search warrants obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune.
Sandra Chotia-Thompson has been charged with 10 counts, including attempted aggravated murder, in a robbery spree that police say spanned December to January, when Chotia-Thompson's alleged partner in crime, 38-year-old Kelly Fay Simons, was shot dead by officers.
Charges filed in 3rd District Court allege Chotia-Thompson committed holdups at The Grocery Store in Salt Lake City, a Scaddy's Restaurant and a Family Dollar Store in Murray, crimes that included stealing a vehicle, fleeing from police and shooting at a Murray police officer.
But search warrants show police also investigated crimes at eight more businesses that Chotia-Thompson and Simonsare suspected of robbing or attempting to rob.
The women wore wigs, masks, oversized trench coats, gloves and hats to conceal their identities as they committed the heists, warrants state. Because of this, reports varied: Some witnesses described the robbers as young men, others as old men, others still as women in costume.
But how the robberies were executed was consistent: One woman would enter the store in disguise, order something at the counter or make her way to the cashier, and as an employee rang her up, the suspect would pull a gun, demand money in a bag, then run to a getaway car.
Similar robberies were reported at a McDonald's at 1533 S. State St., a US Bank branch at 2243 E. 2100 South, Baskin-Robbins at 1465 E. 2100 South, Alchemy Coffee at 390 E. 1700 South, Red Mango yogurt shop at 1511 E. 2100 South, the Yogurt Shop at 2153 E. 2100 South, Movies 10 in Sugar House and Sconecutter at 2040 S. State St.
Simons was killed Jan. 9 by officers near Liberty Park when she allegedly tried to run down an officer with her pickup. Inside the truck, officers discovered bullets, cartridges and a clown mask believed to have been used in hold-ups, documents state.
Upon searching a trailer the women shared, police found three wigs and a black ski mask, documents say. In the tan sedan that Chotia-Thompson is accused of driving during most of the crime spree, police reportedly found slugs, a gun holster, bank receipts, checkbooks, ski masks, jackets, gloves, hats, binoculars, wigs, bolt cutters, needles, a syringe and jackets.
If convicted, Chotia-Thompson could spend up to life in prison. She has been charged with first-degree felony attempted aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and three counts of aggravated robbery, second-degree felony attempted aggravated robbery, third-degree felony attempted theft and tampering with evidence, and misdemeanor failure to respond to an officer and failure to stop at an officer's command.
Prosecutors didn't return calls for comment on whether more charges would be forthcoming. The defense has said plea negotiations are ongoing.