A Durango policeman’s badge, rifle, handgun and ammunition were reported stolen from his parked squad car in Mancos, according to the town’s marshal.
Marshal Jason Spruell said he received reports of unauthorized entry into numerous unlocked cars between June 5 and 10. Items were reported stolen from five of the vehicles, including a patrol car belonging to the Durango Police Drug Task Force. There were no suspects in the case as of Tuesday.
According to incident reports from the Marshal’s Office, several people reported vehicle break-ins along Riverside Avenue and Walnut Street early in the morning on June 5. None of the vehicles were locked, and although someone appeared to have gone through the items in each vehicle, nothing had been stolen except an address book and some loose change, so responding deputy Mark Adkins didn’t make a formal report on the incident.
The next morning, however, Durango Police officer Joseph Farmer reported a large amount of equipment had been stolen from his take-home patrol car, including his badge, a Colt AR-15 rifle, a case containing five 30-round magazines, a Kimber 1911 handgun, five Wilson Combat magazines for the handgun, a department-issued camera, a leg holster and a gun belt. The equipment was valued at $3,090 total.
According to the incident report, Farmer told law enforcement someone must have entered his vehicle while it was parked on Beech Street between 10:10 p.m. on June 6 and 7:10 a.m. June 7.
There was no sign of a break-in, and he reportedly said he might not have closed his passenger door all the way. Spruell said Wednesday that the firearms and equipment had not been recovered.
Durango Police Department public information officer Ray Shupe declined to comment about details of the case. In an email Wednesday, he said the department “would not be able to discuss policy violations or disciplinary actions” with The Journal, since they are personnel matters.
On June 7, another woman reported her address book and a “bucket of change” had been stolen from her unlocked car on West Bauer Avenue. The address book was found later that day near Mancos Creek northwest of Mancos Public Library.
On June 8, a woman from Riverside Avenue reported the GPS in her vehicle, valued at $400, had been stolen, along with two cell phone chargers, sometime after June 2.
Two break-ins were reported on Angel Way the morning of June 10. The owners said nothing was taken from the first vehicle, but it looked like someone had tried to pull apart the dashboard to get at the stereo. A pair of work gloves, an ash tray, a package of marijuana and a wallet were missing from the second vehicle. The wallet reportedly contained one owner’s driver’s license, two debit cards and social security cards for the owner and her three kids, as well as the only baby picture she had of herself.
Spruell said most car burglaries in Mancos are “crimes of opportunity.”
“It’s an ongoing problem, because people don’t lock their cars,” he said.
He said such burglaries typically come in “spurts” throughout the year. This is the first such spurt he’s seen since a suspect was arrested in connection with another series of thefts in April.
Deputies can investigate vehicle burglaries by searching for fingerprints and DNA evidence, but Spruell said the vehicles’ owners often contaminate the crime scenes with their own fingerprints before calling law enforcement.
He advised Mancos residents to lock their vehicles and avoid leaving valuables – especially firearms – inside them overnight. It’s rare for would-be thieves in Mancos to break into locked vehicles, he said.
All the car burglaries remain under investigation.