Car break-in ring broken up, but Sheriff says it's jut the tip of the iceberg

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By AJ Vicens

An Oct. 24 arrest by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office led to the breakup of a car break-in ring tied to at least 10 break-ins and to the recovery of thousands of dollars in stolen property.

But the arrest of several juveniles and an adult in the case didn’t even put a dent in the problem of car break-ins, according to the sheriff’s office. Car break-ins are particularly common around Red Rocks Park and Matthews/Winters Park, with 215 since January.

To underscore the fact that the ring, while representing a lot of stolen property and grief for victims, is only a drop in the bucket, another alleged break-in crew was arrested in the act at Red Rocks Park after the first ring was broken up.

“We cannot sit in the lots 24 hours a day,” said sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacki Kelley. “We need people to take more responsibility,” she added, noting that the vast majority of car break-ins are the result of people leaving desirable items in plain sight in their vehicles.

In fact, according to investigator R.C. “Cres” Gove, the ring broken up Oct. 24 involved crimes in Jeffco, Douglas County, Adams County, Boulder, Golden, Arapahoe County, Arvada, Lakewood and Glenwood Springs.

“Information learned through interviews led us to ID suspects in five trespasses,” Kelley said, adding that the total scope of the ring is not yet known.

“Every call I make opens a can of worms,” Gove said. Ten cases have been or will be filed so far, Gove added, with charges including theft, ID theft and trespassing.

Gove estimated the recovered property is worth thousands of dollars, and ranges from laptops to cell phones to iPods, other electronics, purses, and a gun.

The sad part for investigators, Gove said, is that nearly all of these incidents are avoidable, if people would just leave electronics at home or put them in the trunk, and avoid making their cars a target.

“Every crime (in this case) followed the pattern of breaking a car window and grabbing what is in plain sight,” Gove said.

Contact AJ Vicens at: aj@evergreenco.com.