Aspen police investigate downtown burglaries
A rash of burglaries at downtown businesses in the past seven weeks — many involving forced entry into buildings and safes — may be the work of the same person or persons, police said Tuesday.
“It’s probably one or two or three people, perhaps,” said Sgt. Dan Davis of the Aspen Police Department. “It’s probably not six or seven different people.”
Nearly $11,000 in cash was taken during the six break-ins.
The first burglary was reported Aug. 9 at Meat & Cheese, 317 E. Hopkins Ave. A manager told police that someone entered the restaurant the night before through a side hallway shared with another business and took $1,500 in small bills from a safe, according to a police report.
The manager said the safe may have been unlocked, the report states.
The next incident occurred Aug. 24 at Pinons, 105 S. Mill St., between midnight and 4:30 p.m., according to a police report. Employees reported that someone entered a locked room at the restaurant and stole a safe containing more than $5,000 in cash as well as blank gift certificates, the report states.
There were no signs of forced entry, so it appeared that someone used a key to get into the room and take the safe, Davis said. Only a few employees had keys to the safe, though restaurant managers did not want police to interview employees, Davis said.
Fifteen days later on Sept. 3, employees at Aspen Sports Medicine, 616 E. Hyman Ave., reported that someone had tried to break into the business’ safe the night before. Police found tool marks on the safe and discovered the safe’s faceplate in a nearby trashcan, according to a police report.
Officers also discovered pry marks on the business’ front door, the report states.
The next burglary took place Sept. 21 at Bootsy Bellows, 308 E. Hopkins Ave., when someone pried open a locked cabinet at the business and stole $4,000 in cash, according to a police report. The theft occurred between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m., the report states.
The business’ owner told police he suspected a former employee committed the theft.
Next, someone used a pry tool Sept. 17 to open the back door at PE 101, a women’s clothing store at 500 E. Cooper Ave., according to a police report. The person stole $200 from the cash register, the report states.
Then Saturday, a thief used a pry tool to open the back door of Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus, 315 E. Main St., and stole $208 from the cash register, according to a police report. However, the thief did not take jewelry and a glass vase on the counter containing more than $100 in cash for Nepalese earthquake victims, the report states.
The person also appeared to use a hidden cash register key to steal the cash, so police suspected a former employee might be to blame. The business didn’t want the former employee interviewed, the report states.
Stealing safes and breaking into them is not something Aspen police frequently deal with, Davis said.
“That’s odd,” he said. “The safes thing is kind of new.”
Most of the rest of the burglaries this year have involved residences or hotel rooms or people breaking into golf course facilities and joyriding golf carts, Davis said. The burglaries since early August have been different, though, and police think they could be related, he said.
So far, police haven’t been able to link the crimes, though when businesses decline to allow employees to be interviewed it makes officers’ jobs harder, Davis said.
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Highway 82 is closed eastbound for a second time Tuesday morning east of Aspen because of a semi-truck experiencing “mechanical issues” trying to go up Independence Pass.