Police make progress in Rifle crime spree | PostIndependent.com

Police make progress in Rifle crime spree

Ryan Hoffman
Rifle police officers arrested a 17-year-old Rifle High School student Tuesday morning after discovering marijuana, marijuana paraphernalia, knives and two BB guns in the student’s vehicle at the school.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

Rifle police officers continue to make headway in a spree of burglaries and vehicle break-ins that struck the city in September.

After an investigation that included an interview with the suspect, police say they believe James Pattangall, 29, was responsible for several burglaries, in which a handgun and other items were stolen, as well as an attempted burglary in east Rifle.

Pattangall was arrested Sept. 29 and charged with multiple felonies related to two burglaries and the theft of a city of Rifle work truck. As a result of the continued investigation, he now faces two additional felony charges of second-degree burglary, and one felony charge of criminal attempt to commit second-degree burglary, according to an arrest affidavit.

Unrelated to Pattangall, a warrant has been issued for Miguel Lopez Mares related to vehicle break-ins in west Rifle in late September. After responding to a menacing case involving a firearm and obtaining additional warrants in mid-October, police found property stolen in two separate vehicle break-ins, including a stolen handgun, and other stolen property, according to an arrest affidavit. In an interview, Mares told law enforcement that he stole one gun from a truck but did not remember stealing a second from the same truck. The second handgun is still missing. The affidavit also states Mares did not target the vehicles; rather, it was a random checking of unlocked car doors.

That detail is especially frustrating, Sgt. Mike Tyler said in expressing continued exasperation over people leaving their cars unlocked.

“So many of these could be avoided if people would just take the five seconds to lock their doggone cars,” Tyler said.

With the mercury dropping, Tyler advises people not to leave cars running unattended in the morning — which he said is essentially inviting a thief to steal a vehicle.

“There’s too many options of easy opportunity — why should they go through the hard ones?” Tyler stated.

Just last week, an unattended vehicle left running outside of City Market was stolen, said Rifle Police Chief John Dyer, who echoed Tyler’s pleas for people to lock their vehicles and not leave them running unattended.

Officers also have a case before the district attorney related to a different burglary, and have recovered video equipment used to record Rifle football games that was stolen from a pickup truck parked outside the New Ute Events Center in late September.

Dyer credited his officers and staff for the “all hands on deck” mentality during the surge in crimes. Officers responded to 66 calls the same day the Rifle work truck was stolen alone, according to Dyer.

“The work by the officers in this department was monumental in my opinion,” the chief said.

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