It started out as a routine highway traffic stop -- but it quickly became much more.
That's because a Utah officer soon discovered that the car in which Vincent Matthews and Ronnette Hatch were traveling also contained stolen booty from a high-profile jewelry store robbery in which the thieves dressed as bizarro clowns.
The robbery took place on August 25 at Sonny's Rocks. As surveillance footage shows, two gunmen wearing white face paint, black lipstick, wigs (one frizzy, one blonde) and clownish costumes that made them look like extras in a bad Eighties music video forced employees to lay down behind the counter while they cleaned out the display cases.
The early spin on the heist was that the crooks got away with diddley. In a Fox31 package, store owner Mark Allen said they swiped bogus display items rather than actual diamonds. "It's not real," he maintained. "It's totally worthless." However, 9News, in the video below, reported that the haul actually included a mix of phony and genuine baubles -- and that appears to be the case, considering what happened next. According to the Deseret News, a Salina, Utah cop pulled Matthews and Hatch over on Interstate 70 yesterday morning for a traffic violation. A subsequent search uncovered a loaded handgun under the driver's seat. Also on hand -- more than 100 diamond rings, some of which were being worn by Hatch at the time. Utah cops estimate the items' value at $400,000. By the way, the sole listing under "Activities and Interests" on Hatch's Facebook page is "Partying with Precious Jewel." Truth in advertising?
At this point, Denver Police aren't sure about the possible involvement of Matthews and Hatch in the clown robbery. After all, the thieves were originally reported to be two men. But cops are planning to haul them back to the Denver area with the goal of figuring it out.
Prediction: They'll keep their eye out for a very strange makeup collection. Look below to see the aforementioned 9News piece on the original robbery.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "James Skelton, Zach Tiedgen, CSU footballers, cited in Fort Collins mega-party (VIDEO)."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.