On the River: Paddling a crime scene | AspenTimes.com

On the River: Paddling a crime scene

Naomi Havlen

The Roaring Fork Valley was in full fall swing last weekend with Ruggerfest, the Snowmass Balloon Festival and the leaf-changing season, so my husband and I decided to get out of town to avoid the crowds.A lot of people headed for the slow float down the Colorado River from the Loma put-in just outside Fruita to the Westwater takeout and beyond, over the Utah border. Because I have Sundays and Mondays off work, we managed to miss the crush of people getting onto the river on Saturday morning, and just missed being victims of a ridiculous crime, as well.We were surprised Sunday morning when we drove to the put-in and found about 25 cars parked there, each one with a window or two smashed by car burglars. A Mesa County deputy wandered through the parking lot that morning taking notes about the crime and writing down license plate numbers.”Courtesy is your best friend,” says the sign leading down to the boat ramp at Loma. Nowhere is that more true than on the river, where boaters become kindred spirits and the unpredictable levels of the water (more so during the spring runoff) occasionally make strangers dependent on each other for safety. Boaters are the type who will share lifejackets, car shuttles and beer (although maybe not ice). “River rats are a tight-knit group,” my husband later commented, “and I guarantee that whoever broke into those cars was not a boater.”Having reported on cops in Aspen and Pitkin County for many years, I know that trailheads (and boat ramps) are places you don’t want to leave anything expensive in your car, but I’m not blaming the victims. Hopefully, one of the thieves will be pulled over soon for something stupid like, say, running a stop sign, only to have an officer notice piles of car stereos and cell phones in his back seat.Our float that weekend was beautiful, scenic with great weather, and basically uneventful. But Monday afternoon I witnessed some of the crime victims shaking their heads at the piles of crumbled glass next to their vehicles, and felt sad that when you’re not on the river, courtesy doesn’t always apply.