Police recover property and guns taken in Rifle burglaries
For years, the area off of Fravert Road just north of Rifle has served as a dumping ground for people looking to illegally dispose of a television, couch or other undesired item. However, Tuesday may have been the first time somebody tried to dispose of a city-owned truck by attempting to light it on fire before driving it off a cliff.
That is what James Pattangall, 29, is accused of doing Tuesday morning after, police say, he burglarized two homes in west Rifle and stole the truck from Centennial Park.
A laundry list of charges were brought against Pattangall on Wednesday, including felony charges of second-degree burglary, second-degree arson, tampering with physical evidence, criminal mischief and theft less than $20,000. Those are in addition to the aggravated motor vehicle theft, another felony, filed Tuesday shortly after a Rifle detective arrested Pattangall on Fravert Road. While he was believed to be a suspect in the burglaries, the additional charges did not come until Rifle police officers recovered the 14 firearms stolen from one of the homes, as well as most, if not all, of the rest of the property from both homes, said Police Chief John Dyer.
Dyer would not go into detail on the tip that led to the discovery of the stolen property in a trash can at a residence in the 300 block of Fairway Avenue. At this time, Pattangall is believed to be the only suspect in the incident, which put several Garfield Re-2 schools on lockdown Tuesday as a precaution. However, Dyer added that the investigation was not closed.
A man arrested Tuesday evening who was previously being looked at as a possible suspect is not considered a suspect in the burglaries or vehicle theft committed Tuesday morning in west Rifle, Dyer clarified. The man, who was arrested in the parking lot of the Rodeway Inn after a foot chase in south Rifle, is being examined as a potential suspect in other unrelated crimes, according to Dyer.
Rifle has seen a spike in crimes in the past week, including nine reported vehicle break-ins on Will Avenue in west Rifle between Sunday night and Monday morning. Pattangall is not believed to be a suspect in those cases, based on video footage from a private residence surveillance system showing a male attempting to enter two different vehicles.
“It’s two different people,” Dyer said.
The man in the video walks away after discovering both vehicles are locked.
Personal property, including four firearms, was taken from the vehicles, which in all but one instance were unlocked, according to Dyer.
“They’re crimes of opportunity,” the chief said, expressing some frustration. A series of vehicle break-ins in Rifle this spring were attributed to unlocked cars, and at least three handguns were reported missing after a series of vehicle break-ins in Parachute in early August.
“It’s three things,” Dyer said: “Lock your car, don’t keep your keys in your car and don’t leave valuable things in plain view.”
Police are examining several other incidents in the last week to see if there is any connection with Pattangall. Those crimes include the theft of video equipment used to record Rifle football games that was stolen from a pickup truck parked outside the New Ute Events Center on Friday and an attempted burglary last week that was thwarted when the suspects realized one of the residents was inside the home in the 1700 block of Anvil View Avenue.
Pattangall is being held on a $59,750 bond.
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A brush fire caused by a propane tank explosion at a homeless encampment near the base of Red Hill outside Carbondale on Tuesday night was brought under control by local firefighters in fairly short order.