Aspen teens caught breaking in to Ajax buildings, Homeland Security notified
A group of local teenage boys have been charged with trespassing and criminal mischief after admitting to breaking in to two structures on Aspen Mountain in July and prompting a call to Homeland Security, according to a police report.
The names of the five boys, who were identified after being caught on surveillance video, were redacted from a Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office report because they are juveniles.
The first break-in to the Aspen Skiing Co.’s pumphouse on Little Nell was reported to the Sheriff’s Office on July 17, according to the report. The deputy who responded suggested that Skico’s snowmaking manager install a reinforced door and cameras, which he did, the report states.
The snowmaking manager called back July 19 to report that someone had tried to break down the door again the night before but was unsuccessful, though the door was “severely damaged,” according to the police report. The manager also said a fire extinguisher was missing from the building, which likely occurred during the first break-in.
Video showed four boys each taking turns using their feet, a shovel, a rock and two kinds of pipe that were on the ground near the pumphouse to try to break down the door, the report states.
In addition, the snowmaking manager said the city of Aspen’s pumphouse next door appeared also to have been broken, according to the report.
Later on July 19, a representative of the city of Aspen’s Water Department reported that a security guard discovered the door to the city’s water pumphouse open the night of July 17 and closed it without realizing the lock and door frame were broken, the report states. The man said that after Skico employees discovered the door open again July 19, department employees found the damage, which was estimated at $800.
“(The Water Department employee) was very concerned about this break in because the individuals that broke in had access to the water supply for the entire city,” the report states. “(The employee) said he was required by law to report the break-in to the Department of Homeland Security.”
Investigators printed photocopies of each of the four boys from the camera footage and showed them to an Aspen Middle School official who identified one of them July 20, according to the report.
An investigator called the boy’s father the same day. The man called back 20 minutes later and said his son admitted he was involved in the break-in, though he was reluctant to identify the others, the report states. Twenty minutes later, the boy’s father called the investigator again “and informed me all the boys would be showing up to confess the next day at (3 p.m.),” according to the police report.
On July 21, one of the boys said he and two others hiked up the mountain July 17, discovered the pumphouses and decided to break in to them. He said they used a metal pipe they found on the ground to break the door open, while another boy said they took a fire extinguisher, sprayed it and threw it in the woods, according to the report.
Next they went to the city’s pumphouse next door, where they kicked in the door and went briefly inside and then left, according to the third boy who was quoted in the police report.
On July 19, one of the boys who was present for the July 17 break-ins told investigators he was driving around with three others and decided to revisit the pumphouses, the report states. He said they tried to get back into the Skico building, but could not, then pushed open the door to the city’s pumphouse, looked around for a minute and left, according to the report.
All the boys expressed remorse for their actions, the report states.
“None of the boys were drinking or doing any illegal drugs,” the police report states.
Three boys were charged last week with one count each of criminal mischief and trespassing, while the two boys who were present during both break-ins were charged with two counts of each crime. All five are scheduled to appear before a judge Monday, though the report says they will be put into the District Attorney’s Office diversion program, which aims to correct delinquent behavior without prosecution.
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The Roaring Fork Valley has, by-and-large, avoided the mountain pine beetle and spruce beetle infestations that have decimated parts of the state. However, a 2019 aerial survey showed the Roaring Fork watershed has an outbreak of Douglas-fir and western balsam beetles.