Employee kicks ass in getting back sculpture made of glass
A gallery employee became a local hero Monday when he foiled the theft of a $20,000 crystal glass sculpture from The Rachel Collection.
Skot Scott, who does Internet and floor sales for the gallery, chased the alleged shoplifter and wrestled him to the ground after he set the fragile piece down and tried to escape.
A second man, believed by police to be an accomplice, escaped while Scott held the suspect, Sergio Orlando Barron Medel, until the cops arrived. The second suspect was described as a Latino male in his 20s, clean shaven with a buzz haircut and a “heavy-set” build, possibly wearing a tan, gray or red jacket and a white ball cap.
According to investigating officer Brian Heeney, Barron Medel was also carrying a Bank of America VISA check card under a name other than his own. Heeney said Barron Medel may have been using the card to make purchases around town.
Barron Medel, 30, was taken to the Pitkin County Jail and is being held in lieu of $10,000 bond on charges of felony theft.
A citizen of Chile who said he now lives in Colorado Springs and works in construction, Barron Medel also is subject to a detention order from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. The chase “Skot was amazing,” said Peggy McCafferty, manager of the nearby Roots clothing store, who witnessed the struggle of the two men on the street.
“He had the guy in some kind of hold this big guy couldn’t break,” she said, noting that the alleged thief was much larger and heavier than Scott.
The struggle started around the corner from the gallery, on the east end of Rubey Park, and ended across Galena Street in front of Roots when the police arrived and took the alleged thief into custody.
The incident began around 12:30 p.m. as Scott and Rachel Collection manager Penny Straka were placing artwork on a new shelf in the front of the gallery. Two men walked in, one with a coat slung over his shoulder. They didn’t acknowledge Scott’s greeting, he said, and walked to the back of the store.
“After two minutes, they were on their way out,” Scott said. They were walking fast, and the man was now holding his coat in front of him. Straka and Scott exchanged glances, and the two walked faster. Scott ran to the back of the store, did a quick scan and saw an empty pedestal where the stolen piece had stood. He ran after the two, who had rounded the corner to the south.
“I yelled ‘Stop’ a couple of times,” Scott said. The man dropped the jacket, turned toward Scott with the sculpture, and slowly and carefully set the fragile object down on the pavement. Scott froze.
“Then it was fair game,” Scott said. The sculpture was safe.
The alleged thief turned to run away with his accomplice, but Scott grabbed him from behind.
“I got him in a bear hug,” Scott said.
McCafferty, in the front of her store, looked up from the merchandise she had been preparing to ship.
“I saw Scott come and slam into that big guy, and I saw the jacket fly into the air,” McCafferty said.
The two fought their way across the street and ended up in front of Roots.
“[Scott] said, ‘If you fight me, I’ll have to take you down,'” McCafferty recalled. Scott eventually threw Barron Medel to the ground in front of Roots.
McCafferty called police, summoning officers to what was initially reported as a fight on the street and then as a potential robbery.
Scott said the police, including about eight APD officers, Aspen Community Service officers and Pitkin County deputies, arrived very quickly.
“The police were amazing,” Scott said. “They were there in, like, two minutes, both the foot patrol and the car.”
He said he wasn’t sure what he had gotten himself into until they did arrive.
“When I was on top of the guy, I was afraid his friend was going to come around the corner and smack me with something,” Scott said.
The sculpture, by Christopher Ries, is of optical-quality crystal glass. It is roughly 16 or 17 inches high and weighs at least 30 pounds.
The Rachel Collection, at 433 E. Cooper Ave., shows and sells a variety of art objects made of glass and has experienced a number of thefts in recent years, according to police.
APD officer Marie Munday said there have been at least eight thefts from the store in the past three years, involving art valued at anywhere from $2,000 to $27,500. She said police are unsure whether the various incidents are connected.
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