Chief: No robbery `trend’ | AspenTimes.com

Chief: No robbery `trend’

Sarah S. Chung & Tim Mutrie

Police Chief Tom Stephenson does not believe Aspen is looking down the barrel of a crime spree, despite two holdups last week and four this year.

But, police have advised local businesses to take precautions that could prevent them from being robbed at gunpoint.

Police have also issued descriptions of the robbers who struck at Clark’s Market and Aspen Alps last week. Judging from the descriptions, the same individuals may not have been involved in both stickups.

Three masked gunmen hit Clark’s Market at about 11 p.m. last Thursday and made away with a sizable sum of cash, according to a written statement issued by Detective Glenn Schaffer.

Yesterday, police released descriptions of two of the three perpetrators involved in the Clark’s heist. One suspect is described as a 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 man, who was clad all in black with a white cloth mask, Schaffer said. Another of the robbers is described as a man, between 5 feet 9 inches and 5 feet 11 inches tall, with a thin build. The first suspect was armed with a handgun, the second with a rifle, according to Schaffer.

The following night at about 10:30 p.m., two masked gunmen hit the Aspen Alps, a condominium association located at 700 Ute Ave. The robbers escaped with a “more modest amount” than the sum taken from Clark’s, according to Chief Stephenson.

Both suspects in the Aspen Alps robbery are described as about 5 feet 9 inches tall, with thin builds, according to Schaffer. Both suspects were brandishing handguns and wearing masks, he added.

Local police are devoting all available manpower to investigating the robberies, and may offer a cash reward for information leading to arrests, according to Stephenson.

“Glenn Schaffer has carte blanche with what he needs,” the chief said.

Stephenson also downplayed the notion that Aspen is in the grip of a robbery spree.

The chief, updating the City Council yesterday on the robberies, assured city officials that the latest incidents should not be perceived as a sign of a spree of stickups in Aspen.

“It’s an incredible anomaly,” said Stephenson of last week’s events. “I don’t see this as a trend.”

Stephenson said police believe there is no connection between the two holdups last week and two earlier armed robberies at Stage 3 Theatres.

“There is some indication that with Stage 3, not all the truth came out and the manager since has left the state,” Stephenson said.

In addition, the city’s top cop dismissed a rumor that a rash of other armed robberies have occurred but have not been made public or have not been reported to authorities.

“On the issue of non-reporting, I find it highly unlikely that a person would have a gun shoved in his face and not report it to the police,” Stephenson said.

Mayor Rachel Richards offered the city’s resources if Stephenson believes offering a cash reward would help in the investigation.

In the meantime, police have offered these crime-prevention tips to local businesses:

– Make frequent deposits or safe drops, and handle all money out of the public’s view. It is always best to handle money and make deposits in groups of two or more.

– Immediately report any suspicious activity in or around a business.

– When a business is closed for the evening, but employees are still working, keep all doors locked.

– Utilize security camera systems, alarms and panic buttons, and check regularly to make sure each functions properly. Keep surveillance tapes for at least 10 days before recycling.

– After any incident, write down descriptions of the suspects, which way they fled and note any vehicles involved. Call 911 immediately and provide the dispatcher or officer with the information.

Anyone with information that might assist the police in their investigation is asked to call 920-5400.


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