Snowmass Village break-ins lead to two men’s arrests
The Aspen Times
Two young adults living in the Club Commons employee-housing complex in Snowmass Village face several felony and misdemeanor charges involving burglary, theft and trespassing stemming from a slew of apartment and vehicle break-ins that allegedly occurred early Friday morning.
Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols advised Maxwell Ryan Stephenson and Kelsey Dean Vasten of the charges during a bond hearing for the 21-year-olds at the Pitkin County Courthouse on Monday morning.
She set Stephenson’s cash-surety bond at $7,000 after Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan said that the native of Plano, Texas, had a history of drinking and drug offenses and few ties to the community as well as living and employment situations that are “up in the air.” During a conference call in open court, defense attorney Mark Rubenstein argued for a personal-recognizance bond, but Nichols declined, saying the evidence presented by Snowmass police appeared to be “quite strong.”
For his part, Stephenson said in court that he has lived in the area for only about a year and that he recently quit his job at the Snowmass Club. He added that he has no family in the Roaring Fork Valley but that he is hoping to obtain employment with Aspen Skiing Co. this winter.
Nichols set Vasten’s cash-surety bond at $5,000 after Bryan said there was “not much criminal history” involving the native of Price, Utah. Vasten told Nichols he has a lot of family members locally and that he plans to live with his grandparents in the Ruedi Reservoir area after his lease at Club Commons expires at the end of this month.
According to a written statement from Snowmass Police Officer Tom “Rocky” Rockwell, the two men, both residents of separate apartments at Building 3 of Club Commons, were involved in an alleged string of burglaries and thefts early Friday morning that came to light throughout the day and weekend. Both men were arrested and booked into the Pitkin County Jail on Sunday night, jail records show.
Rockwell wrote that he was called to a man’s residence on Lower Woodbridge Road in Snowmass Village at 6:45 a.m. Friday. The man said that from his apartment window he saw someone rummaging through his car. The man confronted and scuffled with the intruder, whom he thought he knew as “Max from Texas,” who lived at Club Commons, the man said.
The man added that the intruder was wearing a “black hoodie, black beanie and black shirt. He had a round face, round chin and googlie eyes and short hair,” according to Rockwell’s narrative.
Within an hour of that call from emergency dispatchers, Rockwell said he was hit with five other calls of cars parked along Upper and Lower Woodbridge roads that had been broken into, with valuables taken.
Later in the day, the policeman met with Stephenson at his apartment, who “denied knowing the reason I was there.” Stephenson showed Rockwell his room, which contained none of the missing items, the officer wrote. Rockwell then went to the housing manager at Club Commons and asked him for outside video footage from earlier in the morning.
Around 1:15 a.m. Saturday, Rockwell wrote, he met with another alleged burglary victim in the Woodbridge area. The officer’s report said the man claimed his bedroom had been broken into, through the window, and that several items were missing, including:
A flat-screen TV valued at $1,000.
An Apple laptop valued at $1,200.
An iPad Mini valued at $300.
An Xbox 360 system valued at $400.
A three-day backpack valued at $150.
A glass bong valued at $500.
$1,500 in cash.
Around 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the manager at Club Commons called Rockwell and told him that the video showed Vasten and Stephenson leaving Vasten’s apartment between 3:30 and 3:50 a.m. Friday dressed in black, Rockwell’s report said.
“The footage shows Vasten return around 0800 hours (Friday) with a backpack,” Rockwell wrote.
Rockwell and three other officers then went to Vasten’s apartment at Building 3 of the Commons. They couldn’t find him, but hours later an Animal Control officer radioed that she found a man with no shoes or shirt hiding in bushes at Highline Road and Snowmass Club Circle.
Officers soon found Vasten as he was headed back to Club Commons, the report said. They read him his rights and handcuffed him for safety reasons. In an interview later at the Snowmass Village Police Station, Vasten admitted to going through the window of one of the previously mentioned victims, taking several items and a bag of “weed,” Rockwell wrote.
In the meantime, another officer brought Stephenson to the station for an interview. According to that policeman, Stephenson admitted that he helped Vasten get the items out of the bedroom. He also said that he only “went into” one car, the one that belonged to the first victim Rockwell interviewed Friday morning.
Vasten agreed to let police collect several stolen items from his apartment and his car, the report said.
Stephenson’s next court appearance is set for Oct. 7, while Vasten’s will be held Sept. 16. Nichols suggested that both men consider seeking treatment from the Aspen Counseling Center for alcohol and/or drug issues and advised Vasten to apply for a public defender prior to his next hearing.
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