Cops: Suspects not tied to burglaries
The local youths arrested for three armed robberies and a home burglary aren’t being considered as suspects in a rash of break-ins at Aspen restaurants last month, investigators say.
“I won’t rule anybody out but our investigation so far shows it’s a different set of circumstances,” said Aspen Police Detective Glenn Schaffer.
Aspen police were flooded with calls Sept. 20 from 10 businesses that had doors kicked in or pried open with tools. The thief or thieves hit the bars and restaurants after they closed that Sunday night or Monday morning, according to reports. Cash was stolen from some of the establishments.
There’s been a widespread assumption outside the police department that the eight Aspen men being held on charges related to the Clark’s Market robbery, Snowmass Village Market robbery, Aspen Alps robbery or Twining Flats burglary were also responsible for the restaurant jobs.
The timing helped fuel the apparent misperception. The night after the Aspen restaurants were burglarized, five suspects in the other crimes congregated in Boulder. Four of them allegedly dashed for Canada after one was apprehended driving a stolen vehicle.
The eight men, ranging in age from 17 to 20, arrested in connection to the armed robberies, the home burglary or some combination thereof are Moses Greengrass, 18; William Wade Hammond, 18; Nathan Morse, 20; Yuri Ognacevic, 18; Jacob Richards, 18; Anthony Rizzuto, 19; Stefan Schutter, 17; and Cody Wille, 17.
Extensive investigation by Schaffer and other detectives with the Aspen Police Department and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office during the last two weeks indicated the suspects were allegedly involved in a vast, tangled web of crimes. However, nothing has tied them to the restaurant burglaries in Aspen, said Schaffer.
“I don’t believe they’re connected,” he said. “That’s a completely different investigation.”
Instead, police are looking at similarities between the restaurant break-ins in Aspen, one business burglary in Glenwood Springs and 11 in the Eagle Valley.
A theater was broken into and a safe stolen after business hours Sept. 6 in Edwards, according to Eagle County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kim Andre.
Three days later that safe and two others were discovered around the town of Eagle. One safe came from the Glenwood Springs Mall theater and the third came from a Vail restaurant.
All told, similar-style burglaries occurred at six businesses in the town of Eagle, four in Vail, one in unincorporated Eagle County, one in Glenwood Springs and 10 in Aspen. Three Basalt businesses were broken into the same night as the Aspen heists, but it hasn’t been determined if they are related.
Schaffer said investigators in all of the jurisdictions are coordinating their efforts involving the rash of September burglaries. He said he couldn’t discuss further details of that work.
Further complicating the issue, at least one suspect in the Aspen robberies and Twining Flats burglary is going to be questioned about a burglary at a residence in the Fryingpan Valley, Schaffer confirmed.
The detective said the operators of businesses and owners of homes that have been burglarized in the Aspen area over the last six months or so have called the police department to raise the prospect of the Aspen eight being their men.
“We’re getting a lot of calls from businesses and other individuals saying, `Don’t forget about us,’ ” said Schaffer.
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