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December 2, 2011
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Police: 'Bridge Street Bandit' caught in Avon

AVON, Colorado - Eric Callaghan's business for the last two years has been burglary, police say. That business closed this week.

Callaghan, 24, was arrested without incident by Avon police Thursday on the sidewalk just outside the Westin hotel. He's now a guest at the Eagle County jail, being held on $100,000 bond. He's suspected in as many as 35 burglaries over the last two years in Eagle, Summit and Mesa counties.

A Friday press conference brought together representatives from police agencies in all three counties to talk about the case, and what led to Callaghan's arrest.

Avon Police Chief Bob Ticer said a "tiny" piece of evidence at an Avon crime scene a couple of weeks ago allowed police to piece together a case against Callaghan. Ticer said Callaghan hadn't been a suspect in the burglaries before that final piece of the puzzle fell into place.

After the press conference, Ticer said if that piece of evidence hadn't been left, Callaghan wouldn't have been captured.

While he's jailed on suspicion of numerous burglaries, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said his office is still piecing together exactly what charges he'll face.

"But he's looking at a significant amount of jail time," Hurlburt said.

While police and prosecutors wouldn't talk about too many specifics of the case, Ticer said it's believed the burglaries add up to "in excess" of $100,000 in losses and damage to homes and businesses.

While a suspect of average size - somewhere around 6 feet tall and weighing between 150 and 180 pounds - was caught on at least a couple of security cameras, that suspect's face was always hidden. Police suspected the same suspect in many burglaries because of his methods - using hand tools and cordless power tools to break into safes and automatic teller machines.

Those common elements at first got police in Eagle County talking to each other. That information was then turned over to the Colorado Information Analysis Center and sent to other police departments in the state. That brought police in Summit and Mesa counties into the investigation.

When the ultimate break in the case came a couple of weeks ago, Ticer said investigators from all those agencies began working the case in earnest, using both new and old information.

"It was just good old-fashioned police work," Ticer said.

Ticer said the suspect in the burglaries was a real professional in the way he went about his work.

"This was his job for the last two years," Ticer said. "He took plenty of time to survey places."

Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said the burglaries in that town had led more businesses to beef up their security systems and procedures, adding that he was pleased no one had been hurt while the crimes were being committed. Ticer said there's no evidence at the moment that Callaghan was armed with anything but burglary tools during the crimes.

And, Ticer said, this is an unusual number of crimes to be tied to one suspect. With several cops from several agencies behind him, Ticer said, "None of us has ever seen a string like this. It's amazing this person did that many burglaries."

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 2, 2011 11:19PM Published Dec 2, 2011 11:13PM Copyright 2011 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.