Woman accused of lifting items from four Aspen stores | AspenTimes.com

Woman accused of lifting items from four Aspen stores

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols on Monday set bond at $2,500 for a California woman accused of stealing more than $3,000 worth of items from four downtown Aspen stores.

Kimberly Ann Gardner, 27, of Stanton, California, faces a single felony theft charge. She was arrested by Aspen police Sunday afternoon.

In an arrest affidavit, Officer Vanessa March wrote that she was contacted Sunday just before 1 p.m. by an employee of Ute Mountaineer regarding a theft. She then went to the store and reviewed surveillance video from Saturday evening. The employee pointed to a woman in the video, later identified as Gardner, who he believed had taken two pairs of shoes from the store.

A few hours later, the store employee contacted emergency dispatchers to say that the same woman had returned to the store but left. A description of the woman was provided to police.

A policeman in a patrol vehicle searched the downtown area while March, after meeting with the Ute Mountaineer employee and looking at the new video, searched on foot. She wrote that she found Gardner washing her hands in the public restroom near Wagner Park.

Gardner, March said, produced an Arizona driver’s license with her name.

“I told her that I was investigating a theft; she became very nervous and asked if she could go back to the restroom,” March wrote. “I asked Gardner for consent to search her purse and she said that it was her private property.”

Another Ute Mountaineer employee was nearby and identified Gardner as the suspect, March said. He had told March previously, during her search for Gardner, that a worker from another sports store also was missing some items.

Gardner was arrested and gave March consent to search the purse. March discovered several items of clothing with the tags still attached.

After Gardner was booked into the Pitkin County Jail, March took a thorough inventory of the contents of the purse. According to the officer, the purse contained:

• Four T-shirts from the T-Shirt Co. on the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall.

• Two pairs of leggings and one price tag for a pair of leggings from The Sports Center on East Cooper Avenue.

• Two price tags, one for a vest, one for a hoodie.

March wrote that she later found Gardner’s car parked on South Monarch Street. She looked through the windows and could see several items with tags on them. Two pairs of shoes matched the description of the shoes taken from Ute Mountaineer on Saturday.

The vehicle was towed to a parking lot near the Pitkin County Courthouse. On Monday, March and Detective Walter Chi, armed with a search warrant, found inside Gardner’s car 14 items, mostly clothing, believed to have been stolen from Ute Mountaineer and Aspen Sports, also located on East Cooper Avenue.

During her advisement, Gardner said she was spending two weeks in the area visiting a friend. She asked Nichols how soon she could get her personal belongings and her vehicle back.

Nichols noted that the case was still under investigation and suggested that Gardner apply for a public defender or hire a private lawyer.

Gardner’s next scheduled court appearance is Oct. 6.