Monday, July 1, 2002
Steamboat Springs Thieves made off with four safes from Steamboat Springs businesses Sunday night and early Monday morning after eight local establishments were broken into in what police are calling the largest one-night wave of local burglaries in memory.
El Rancho Nuevo, Steamboat Brewery and Tavern, Old Town Pub, Toys in the Attic, Soda Creek Pizza, Lupo's, the Tugboat and Slopeside Grill reported burglaries Monday morning, Steamboat Springs Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said.
El Rancho, Steamboat Brewery and Tavern, Slopeside and the Old Town Pub all had safes stolen.
None of the businesses burglarized had security alarms, Fiebing said.
"This is the biggest burglary night that I can remember," he said. Fiebing has been in local law enforcement for nearly 19 years.
The burglaries were all forced entries through windows or doors, Fiebing said.
A side door at the Tugboat, had a hole in it from being pried open.
Inside, the office was ransacked in what appeared to be an attempt to find keys to the safe, manager Jack Doyle said.
The criminals were unsuccessful and the safe was not removed from the business.
"It could have been a lot worse," Doyle said.
It was worse at El Rancho and the Steamboat Brewery which are jointly-owned businesses and located next door to each other.
The burglars pried open a door that leads to the dining room of the Steamboat Brewery and came away with both businesses' safes.
"Everything we made on Saturday," was in the safes, owner Joe Walker said.
Slopeside's safe weighed approximately 800 pounds, which baffled owner Chris Corna.
"To walk in this morning to find someone had stolen the safe you could of told me anything else happened that I would have believed more," he said.
About $100 was stolen from Lupo's and Soda Creek Pizza. The safe was still at Toys in the Attic, but the business was heavily vandalized.
Employees at the Old Town Pub couldn't comment on the burglaries.
Fiebing said the combined losses at the businesses was in the thousands of dollars, but it was too early to tell for sure.
"This wasn't a couple of drunks who came in to get cash and free beer," Fiebing said.
There is evidence the burglaries are connected to similar break-ins in Winter Park, Eagle County, Silverthorne and Longmont.
Grand County Deputy Leo Piechocki said four businesses in Winter Park and two in Eagle County were hit in a similar style on June 16, which was also a Sunday night.
The contents of three safes in Winter Park and two in Eagle Country were removed through holes made with a torch tool called a grinder.
In Winter Park, $21,900 was taken, Piechocki said.
Information on the losses in Eagle County weren't available.
Two businesses were hit in Silverthorne on Sunday, May 26. Authorities there said the cases were under investigation and couldn't comment.
"It's a lot of similar ones in a lot of mountain areas," Piechocki said.
Grand County police don't have any leads in their cases.
The first string of burglaries in restaurants and bars is traced to Longmont, starting April 20, said Craig Earhart, commander of detective division at the Longmont Police Department.
Ten have been reported there in the last three months.
"They are breaking into the restaurants and forcing their way in the safes or stealing the safes," Earhart said.
There are some suspects in the Longmont cases, but Earhart said, "the leads are very limited."
Fiebing said he couldn't say if the burglaries in Steamboat have a connection to the ones throughout Colorado.
"Detectives are following up on those leads."
It is being cautiously accepted that the thieves are not from Steamboat Springs, Fiebing said.
In the meantime, Steamboat officers were working hard Monday to process the crime scenes.
One crime scene can take two hours to investigate and officials had eight to visit.
Fiebing urged the public to report any suspicious vehicles or incidences seen late Sunday night or early Monday morning.