Last month, in the aftermath of the incredibly destructive Waldo Canyon fire, the Colorado Springs Police Department reported 37 home burglaries and 28 car break-ins that victimized evacuees. Shocking figures, yes. But now, the CSPD is revealing that its final total is even higher -- and to date, only two people, Shane Garrett and Belinda Yates, have been arrested in connection to the crimes.
According to Barbara Millers, CSPD spokeswoman, the department has received 29 reported Waldo Canyon BMVs -- the acronym for break-ins of motor vehicles. However, the number of vehicles involved is actually 43, meaning that some victims had more than one car ransacked. By way of example, Miller says, "it could have been a husband and wife."
As Miller told us last month, the car crimes didn't all take place in the evacuated neighborhoods. Many of the vehicles were parked at hotels to which the fire victims had fled when ordered from their homes. As such, they may have been loaded with individuals' most treasured possessions -- the stuff they'd earmarked as a first priority to save.
As for home burglaries, they've gone way up as well -- to 42.
Why the boost? Miller says many who evacuated actually stayed out of state until recently, so the bad news was delayed. "A lot of people didn't realize their house had been broken into until they came back weeks later," she points out.
Regarding arrests, only two people have been charged with Waldo Canyon fire-related burglaries thus far: Yates, 38, and Garrett, 36.
The late June bust, made in an evacuated Springs subdivision, was a collaboration between several different law-enforcement agencies, including the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the Monument Police Department and the El Paso Sheriff's Office. Yates and Garrett were taken into custody on suspicion of second-degree burglary, theft, possession of a weapon by a previous offender, theft by receiving and possession of a controlled substance -- meth, which they allegedly had on their person when they were fitted for cuffs in Monument.
The CSPD's investigations into these offenses are ongoing, Miller stresses, with no one assuming that Garrett and Yates were behind all of them.
"We're looking at different people who may have been involved," she notes. "To say they were responsible for all of them would really be a stretch."
Meanwhile, Miller says, a $50,000 reward offered by an anonymous donor regarding the arrest of a suspect or suspects in the burglaries still has not been claimed. In Miller's words, "It's still out there -- and we're still hoping people will be able to help us find who's responsible."
If you know one of the scumbags in question, you're encouraged to phone 719-385-2222.
More from our News archive: "Waldo Canyon fire update: 70 percent contained, only 100 acres growth."
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