Police have few clues in Snowmass robbery
Upper-valley law enforcement officials have so few clues to work with from three armed robberies this summer that they aren’t sure whether the suspects are white or Hispanic.
Authorities said Friday it only makes sense that three robberies are related, since that type of crime is usually so rare in the Aspen area. But conflicting information – and potentially new information – came out of the latest robbery Thursday night at Snowmass Village.
Officials there told reporters from both Aspen newspapers immediately after the crime occurred that a white male was being sought for an assault on a worker during the robbery at the Village Market.
But in a BOLO broadcast – an acronym for be on the look out – two hours after the robbery, downvalley law officials were advised to keep their eyes open for at least one Hispanic male in connection to the crime.
Snowmass Village Town Marshal Art Smythe wouldn’t or couldn’t clarify Friday whether white or Hispanic suspects are being sought.
“It’s not that definitive,” said Smythe. “Right now it would just be male.”
Three robbers entered the store. All of them wore hoods. The BOLO report said at least one was believed to be Hispanic because of his voice.
Unlike the other two armed robberies this summer, the one at Village Market turned violent. The lone employee was reportedly struck on the head with a blunt object and required medial attention, according to Smythe.
The assault wasn’t part of a struggle or confrontation, Smythe said. It was unknown if the object was a handgun that one of the suspects was reported to possess, he said.
Aspen police have been tight-lipped about what information they have to work with involving robberies at Clark’s Market and the Aspen Alps earlier this month. However, law enforcement officials are looking at three armed robberies in the upper valley as more than a coincidence.
Ninth Judicial District Attorney Mac Myers said his office will arrange a meeting of law enforcement agencies affected this week to help coordinate investigations. That meeting will include the police departments of Snowmass Village and Aspen and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
Any chance for coordination got off to a slow start Friday. Aspen Police Chief Tom Stephenson was on vacation. The assistant chief was training at the firing range and a lead investigator wasn’t on duty.
Meanwhile, Snowmass Village officers were recovering from a long night on the job. Smythe, for example, helped with the investigation until 6 a.m. but was back at the office by noon.
Given the circumstances of three armed robberies that close together in time, coordinating investigations is a good idea, said Smythe. He noted that the three armed strikes share at least one common trait
“You don’t need me to tell you these take a little preplanning,” he said.
Although no one will discuss the Aspen investigations publicly, one official acknowledged investigators are looking for any connection between employees of Clark’s Market and the Aspen Alps.
The Alps, a high-end condominium complex, isn’t the type of place usually targeted in a robbery. It’s one of scores of rental properties in town and it doesn’t deal in large amounts of cash.
Suspicious Snowmass facts
There were also suspicious characteristics of the Snowmass Village robbery that suggest the three suspects knew something about the Village Market’s operations.
The robbers struck at 9:35 p.m. – 35 minutes after closing and while the manager was alone.
Smythe wouldn’t comment on how the suspects entered or exited the store. The BOLO report to downvalley agencies said the suspects fled out the back door of the supermarket and fled in an unknown direction of travel.
That suggests they were familiar with the after-hours operations of the supermarket. Smythe wouldn’t comment on whether the three suspects were viewed by a video surveillance system.
Police set up roadblocks on Owl Creek and Brush Creek Roads soon after the incident, but failed to turn up any leads.
Police aren’t releasing much information to the press because the credibility of sources will be gauged on the details they know, Smythe explained. When asked whether police have facts to work with, he responded, “absolutely.”
The dollar amounts taken in each of the three robberies has been kept under wraps.
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