Snowmass police on hunt for high-end booze thief
Snowmass police believe they have cracked a case involving at least three thefts of high-end alcohol at liquor stores in Basalt and Snowmass Village this week.
Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols signed a warrant Thursday night for the arrest of David Tiberious Rougeau, 40, of Spring, Texas, who also is wanted in Abilene, Texas, for similar transgressions he allegedly committed Oct. 6, 2014.
Police say he is possibly driving a black Dodge Avenger four-door sedan with Texas plate BVC1375.
Snowmass authorities believe that Rougeau, a black man dressed as a construction worker, shoplifted $1,800 worth of expensive spirits from Sundance Liquor & Gifts at approximately 4 p.m. Tuesday. Among his claims were two bottles of Dom Perignon Rose, valued at $499 each, and a $799 bottle of Opus One wine. Rougeau also is suspected of lifting a $325 bottle of Johnny Walker Blue scotch from Daly Bottle Shop, another Snowmass liquor merchant, after the Sundance heist.
Authorities also have connected Rougeau to a Thursday theft from Jimbo’s Liquor in Basalt, where he is believed to have purloined a $2,500 bottle of Louis XIII cognac.
Those and other details are disclosed in an arrest warrant affidavit written by Snowmass Police Sgt. David Heivly. The affidavit, provided to The Aspen Times by Snowmass Police Chief Sgt. Brian Olson, says that Rougeau is wanted on suspicion of Class-6 felony theft.
Olson said he believes Rougeau is headed east. He based that on Rougeau’s alleged patterns this week in the Roaring Fork Valley. The police chief also said it’s possible that Rougeau struck Aspen liquor stores as well before he fled.
“We’re pretty sure he hit Aspen,” Olson said.
As of Thursday night, Olson said there were at least three confirmed thefts of high-end alcohol in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Olson said it appears Rougeau dressed as a construction worker as a ruse. Surveillance videos from the Sundance, Daly and Jimbo’s liquor stores show the suspect wearing a yellow safety vest with orange stripes on it. He also is wearing a cap turned backward and blue jeans.
“He wasn’t wearing a hard hat, and he was wearing a reflective safety vest and baggy blue jeans and construction boots,” Olson said. “So he had the look of a gentleman who was working construction locally, and I believe that’s part of his game.”
Authorities were able to determine the suspect’s identity thanks to some detective work by a Sundance Liquor employee who discovered an online news story from a Texas media outlet describing a liquor-store shoplifter dressed like a construction worker.
The employee contacted Snowmass police after he noticed some of the store’s high-end products were missing.
The employee, according to the arrest warrant affidavit, did a Google search of the term “high end liquor theft in pants Texas” and it led to a Texas television news report from October 2014 that mirrored this week’s incidents.
That news report, by KTXS in Texas, said the suspect swiped $1,000 in expensive liquor from four liquor stores in Abilene. And last month, a grand jury in Abilene indicted Rougeau for theft, according to a published report.
Surveillance in the Snowmass thefts shows the suspect stuffing the bottle down his baggy pants. In Abilene, the thief put the goods down his baggy pants, authorities said.
The affidavit says the suspect told Sundance employees he was working on a cellphone-tower construction project in Woody Creek. After discovering the booze was missing, the Sundance employee contacted the construction crew in Woody Creek, who said they weren’t familiar with the employee in question, the affidavit said.
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International visitors have traditionally accounted for 10 to 20 percent of Aspen Skiing Co.’s skier visits in recent past seasons. Travel fears and restrictions tied to the coronavirus are expected to wipe out most of that market for 2020-21.