Crime Briefs: Vehicle theft leads to police chase, two arrests | PostIndependent.com

Crime Briefs: Vehicle theft leads to police chase, two arrests

A Garfield County sheriff's deputy responded to a vehicle theft on Horizon Circle in Battlement Mesa Thursday evening.

A woman reported that her gray Ford F-150, which was left warming up in the driveway for about 20 minutes, was stolen.

About 30 minutes later, after putting the call out to other agencies,  a sheriff's sergeant spotted a matching vehicle in the Rifle Walmart parking lot. The sergeant reported firing his Taser at a male suspect, who was able to flee in the vehicle.

A vehicle pursuit ensued, drawing multiple patrol units from the sheriff's office and Rifle Police Department.

About 10 minutes later the truck crashed on Mile Pond Road, just east of Rifle, and the driver fled the scene. Then police got a call from the Walmart manager informing them that a woman in pink pants kept asking clerks if police were still in the parking lot.

At about the same time, police were informed that the truck owner's debit card, which was in the stolen truck, had been used for more than $200 at the Rifle Walmart.

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The deputy found a 29-year-old woman matching the given description outside of the Walmart. And he recognized her from a vehicle theft investigation from Jan. 13, in which she and a 30-year-old man were suspects.

When the deputy questioned her, she denied any knowledge of the Ford F-150 involved in the chase.

However, law enforcement found the woman's ID in the stolen truck. They also found a Walmart receipt for a purchase made after the vehicle was stolen. In addition, a sergeant involved in the vehicle pursuit recognized the male driver as her fellow suspect in the Jan. 13 vehicle theft.

While being booked into the jail, the woman recognized a detentions deputy and asked him in Spanish, "Have they brought my husband in?" according to an affidavit.

She was arrested on felony charges of aggravated motor vehicle theft and criminal impersonation. Her misdemeanor charges included unauthorized use of a financial transaction device and theft. The 30-year-old man was also detained and arrested on felony motor vehicle theft.

Thief snatches Rifle sergeant's wallet

Police arrested a 32-year-old man they say smashed a Rifle police sergeant's truck window and snatched his wallet while the sergeant was ice climbing.

On December 21, the sergeant and some friends were ice climbing at Rifle Mountain Park. That afternoon, while the two were at high elevation climbing a section called the "Final Curtain," the sergeant noticed a car pull up near their vehicles.

He heard what sounded like a car door closing. When they came down, the sergeant found his front passenger window shattered, footprints in the snow and his wallet missing. Another climber found his wallet was missing from his unlocked truck.

The Rifle sergeant later found that his debit card had been used to withdraw money at Gofer Foods in Silt, Alpine Bank in West Glenwood and a purchase at the Glenwood Target. In these transactions, more than $1,500 had been taken from his account.

Rifle police started spreading images of the man at the ATM around to other law enforcement agencies. A Garfield County sergeant recognized images of the man as resembling a 32-year-old man with a criminal history of car break-ins.

The Rifle sergeant also found that the 32-year-old owned a vehicle that matched the one he saw at Rifle Mountain Park.

On Jan. 11, the man was arrested on an unrelated warrant. When he was showed the ATM photos, he told investigators that he would not say whether that was or was not him, and he wanted to know how speaking to investigators would benefit him, according to an affidavit.

Nevertheless, he was arrested on felonies of first-degree criminal trespass and identity theft, as well as misdemeanors of criminal mischief, criminal possession of an ID, criminal possession of a financial device and unauthorized use of a financial device.

Customer drops bag of meth

A little before 3 a.m. on Dec. 19, Rifle police responded to a drug violation at the Kum & Go.

A night clerk at the gas station reported finding a small bag of suspected methamphetamine. Three people had come into the store earlier, and she suspected they had dropped it. She handed over a bag containing a substance that tested positive for methamphetamine and weighed about 2.7 grams.

Video footage showed a woman known to police walk up to the counter. The floor in front of the counter was clear before she stepped up to the counter, but as she moved to another part of the counter, a small baggie is visible on the ground, according to police.

She was booked into jail on Sunday on felony possession of a controlled substance.

Third arrest made in Rifle chop shop

On Sunday, Rifle police arrested a third man connected to a chop shop discovered in a Rifle storage unit in November.

After receiving reports of a stolen Dodge Ram 2500 truck, police responded to a trespassing call at a storage unit, where they found three men and a chopped up truck matching the description of the stolen vehicle.

Inside the smoky, chemical-smelling storage unit, officers found the truck with its parts scattered everywhere.

"There was a cab for a black Dodge Ram 2500. The cab had been stripped of all seats, steering wheel and all interior components," police reported. "The doors had all been removed, but were still in the shop. The cab and the bed of the truck had been separated. The engine compartment had been removed from the cab. The engine was sitting on the ground about 10 feet from the cab. There were transmission parts and multiple other mechanical parts lying around. There was a line going through the center exterior of the cab, consistent with the cab being cut into multiple pieces. The entire chassis had been cut into pieces; each about 3 to 5 feet in length."

Officers also found the truck's VIN numbers had all been removed. Two of the men were arrested soon after this discovery.

The third, a 28-year-old man, was booked into jail on Sunday on two felony counts of chop shop activity, felony first-degree criminal trespass and felony aggravated motor vehicle theft.