Basalt man arrested for rash of vehicle break-ins
ASPEN – A Basalt man was arrested Tuesday on allegations that he broke into several vehicles and took wallets, clothing and other items, and charged such goods as a carton of cigarettes and an erotic magazine to a stolen debit card.
Michael Cline, 21, was advised Wednesday in a Pitkin County district judge’s chambers that he faces three class-five felony charges of first-degree criminal trespass, which carry prison terms of one to three years. He also faces separate misdemeanor counts of theft and unauthorized use of a financial transaction device.
Bond for Cline, who is in the custody of Pitkin County Jail, was set at $8,500 by District Judge Gail Nichols, who listened in on the Aspen hearing via speaker phone. Cline, who said he has lived in Basalt about seven months, appeared without an attorney.
According to Assistant District Attorney Arnold Mordkin and an affidavit for a warrantless arrest, Cline confessed Tuesday to breaking into 10 vehicles in the Basalt area. Cline said all of the vehicles were within walking distance from his brother’s home, where he lives.
Basalt police received three complaints earlier this week that vehicles had been broken into. Taken were such items as wallets, car keys and ski jackets worth as much as $350.
Video surveillance from the nearby 7-Eleven store captured Cline on film in the early morning hours of Monday. Using a stolen debit card, he allegedly made charges of $95.80 and $5.41 for such items as Camel cigarettes and a Playboy magazine. He also allegedly tried to make a purchase of $260 – $200 of which was for a gift card – but that charge was rejected, police said.
Employees of 7-Eleven said they were familiar with Cline, who visited the convenience store some four times a week. So at 6:23 p.m. Tuesday, believing they saw Cline enter Timbo’s Pizza next door, store workers called authorities to report the sighting.
Basalt Police Officer Josh Bennett then went to Timbo’s, located less than a half-mile from police headquarters, and arrested Cline. A search of Cline’s backpack yielded two iPods, one Olympus camera, nine bead bracelets, one pack of cigarettes, three lighters, a mag flashlight, a silver pocket knife, a pair of headphones, a pair of gray gloves, a black Gap jacket, an Old Navy polo shirt, a Ripzone jacket and an Obermeyer jacket. Some of the items, including the two ski jackets, matched what the alleged victims reported as stolen items from their vehicles. He also was allegedly wearing one of the jackets that was reported stolen, the affidavit says.
Initially Cline denied committing any vehicle break-ins, according to Bennett’s affidavit. But later he confessed, allegedly saying “I will come straight. I did it. I broke into those cars. They were unlocked. I will be a man,” Bennett’s affidavit says.
Cline also allegedly said, “I was hungry just trying to get money.”
At Wednesday’s advisement, there was some confusion about Cline’s identity. Mordkin said a background check of Cline’s Social Security number showed he has a criminal history in North Carolina. Cline, however, said the Social Security number Mordkin used is not his.
Cline is due back in court Monday.
Basalt police sent out a press release about the arrest Wednesday, encouraging residents to call the department if they feel they were a victim of the vehicle break-ins that allegedly occurred on Sunday, Feb. 27 and Monday, Feb. 28. The Basalt Police Department’s number is 927-4316.
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