A 26-year-old man from Gallup, New Mexico, has been arrested in connection with a crime spree this week in Durango, and additional suspects are likely to be arrested in the coming days, according to the Durango Police Department.
Cmdr. Jacob Dunlop said Thursday that authorities are set to issue an arrest warrant for the 26-year-old man on charges of burglary, aggravated motor vehicle theft and several counts of trespassing.
Because the arrest warrant had not been signed as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Dunlop declined to release the man’s identity. Dunlop said the man was in custody after being arrested by the Gallup Police Department on separate charges.
Gallup Police Department spokeswoman Erin Toadlena said authorities there were alerted around 10 a.m. Wednesday by the Durango Police Department that a stolen vehicle was possibly located in the parking lot of a Gallup motel.
Officers found the vehicle in the parking lot, Toadlena said, and took three people to the police station for questioning.
There, the 26-year-old man asked to use the restroom, and because the water lines were broken at the police station, officers had to take him to an adjacent building.
While en route, Toadlena said the man, identified as Dmar Elleby, attempted to escape.
As a result, he was charged with attempting to escape from custody, resisting/evading arrest, assault on a peace officer and possession of marijuana. Toadlena said Elleby also admitted to stealing the vehicle from Durango, and he was charged with motor vehicle theft.
Toadlena said charges against the other two people are pending.
Durango police said the crime spree started about 7 p.m. Tuesday and wrapped up about 9 a.m. Wednesday.
The suspects hit several areas around town, including Metz Lane, Artisan Court, the 1200 block of Florida Road, Woodland Circle, Allen Road, Hillside Avenue and the 400 block of South Camino del Rio.
At last count, at least 10 Durango-area residences were targeted for theft.
Stolen items included four guns, a 2004 Honda motorcycle, a portable PA system with speakers and other miscellaneous items, such as tools, wallets and headphones.
The thieves also made off with a Glock handgun, a Taser, body armor and a badge belonging to a La Plata County Sheriff’s Office deputy, said Cmdr. Ray Shupe with the police department.
Authorities believe the group then stole a 2019 Ford F-150 and left town.
The Durango Police Department put out an alert to surrounding communities about the thefts, saying the suspects could be traveling in the Ford truck, which was spotted in Gallup, where authorities detained several people.
Police anticipate charges against at least two other people related to the crimes, Dunlop said, but as of Thursday, the focus was on solidifying the arrest warrant for Elleby.
Investigators are working to determine what crimes can be tied to the Gallup group. Multiple items stolen in the spree were found in the Ford truck, Dunlop said, including a rifle that was taken from a garage.
“It takes a while for detectives working on a search warrant in a vehicle,” Dunlop said. “It’s time-intensive pulling out items, documenting it and tying it to different areas.”
Toadlena said investigators continue to search the vehicle and tie evidence to the crime spree in Durango.
No other guns had been recovered as of Thursday, including the Sheriff Office deputy’s Glock, Dunlop said.
La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith said the deputy’s gun was privately owned, not a Sheriff’s Office-issued weapon, which was secure inside the vehicle. The deputy’s own gun was in a deputy belt that was stolen that he accidentally left in the vehicle after going to the gun range, Smith said. The windows of the vehicle had apparently been smashed to gain entry into the car.
While 10 possible victims have been identified, there could be others, Dunlop said.
“We did have a string of car burglaries over the weekend leading up to this as well,” he said. “But I don’t know how many we’ve been able to tie them into. We’re continuing to ID potential victims.”
Anyone who thinks they may be a victim is asked to call Sgt. Kathleen O’Toole at 375-4734.
“I’m betting we have victims in the community that are not aware they’ve been victimized,” Dunlop said. “Any additional crimes committed can be added on to the case.”
While burglaries and thefts are not unusual in Durango, a coordinated and extensive spree like the one this week is more rare, Dunlop said.