Cops bust alleged Aspen pill burglar
A man who may have committed more than 30 home burglaries throughout the Roaring Fork Valley was arrested Wednesday after allegedly being caught red-handed in an Aspen residence.
Jeffrey Lee Kentz, 47, is charged with several counts of burglary and told police he had been entering local homes to steal prescription painkillers to support a drug habit, according to an affidavit for his arrest.
Since Kentz could not remember the exact homes he took medication from, police are asking for the community’s help: Anyone who recognizes the photo of Kentz as someone who may have knocked on their door or saw him inside a home is asked to call police.
Aspen resident Fritz Mawicke found Kentz in his apartment on Wednesday morning, and called police.
Mawicke said he came home to find a man kneeling in front of his bathroom sink, who said hello and asked if he had called a plumber. When Kentz asked him if he was at the right address, Mawicke said the address he gave was “not even close.”
“I asked him if I could have his business card, and he shuffled through his pockets for a minute and said, ‘They must be in my car,'” Mawicke said. “I was pretty irritated, but he stayed very calm. He might have seemed a little edgy, but I couldn’t tell if he was super guilty or just embarrassed about being in the wrong house.”
Mawicke said he called police after telling Kentz to leave and watching him walk to a white Jeep Grand Cherokee. He gave the police a description of the car and a license plate number, and police pulled Kentz over on Main Street and arrested him.
Kentz is being held in the Pitkin County Jail under $75,000 bond.
According to the arrest affidavit, police found five bottles of prescription painkillers in his car, although none of them were prescribed to Kentz. When police interviewed Kentz, he allegedly said he is on probation in Garfield County for an identical incident, and that he has been stealing pain pills because he has a drug problem and has relapsed.
Kentz said he knocks on the door of a home he wants to burglarize, according to police, and if someone answers the door he makes up a story about why he is there and leaves.
He allegedly told police that in Aspen he has burglarized homes in the Water Place subdivision, Castle Ridge apartments, Centennial apartments, an apartment building near the base of Smuggler Mountain and single-family homes scattered throughout town.
He estimated that he had taken pills from 12 homes in Aspen, and up to 20 homes in the greater Roaring Fork Valley. He said he never enters a house when the front door is locked.
When police called three people who owned the bottles of painkillers found in Kentz’s car, all said that they did have medication missing from their bathrooms.
Aspen police officer Linda Consuegra told police she had been sleeping at her house on Tuesday when she heard the doorbell ring, but decided not to answer it. A few moments later she heard someone rattle the doorknob to see if the door was unlocked, she said.
When she went to the window she saw a man walking away from her apartment, who went next door and rang her neighbor’s doorbell. When her neighbor answered the door, she saw the man leave. The description Consuegra gave of this man apparently matches Kentz’s appearance.
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