Aspen man’s ‘I didn’t do it’ joke backfires spectacularly | VailDaily.com

Aspen man’s ‘I didn’t do it’ joke backfires spectacularly

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

An oft-told joke that usually makes cops roll their eyes instead led to the arrest Friday of the exact man an officer was looking for, according to court documents.

"I didn't do it," Carleton Meyers said "in a joking manner" when he walked up to the officer and a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority employee, who were at Rubey Park reviewing surveillance video of a man suspected of stealing a $1,500 jacket, documents state.

The RFTA employee told the officer that Meyers was the exact man they were about to watch on the surveillance video, according to an affidavit filed Friday in Aspen District Court.

"As it appeared at the time that the male had indeed 'done it,' (the officer) contacted him and asked for his identification," the affidavit states. "Meyers refused to answer questions and requested an attorney be present."

Meyers, 43, was then arrested for misdemeanor theft and ordered held Monday in lieu of a $100 cash only bond.

The incident began Thursday when the RFTA employee reported finding a clothes hangar and a $1,499 price tag for a Kjus Men's Formula DLX jacket in the Rubey Park bathroom, according to the affidavit. The employee checked surveillance video and saw a man carrying a bag from Aspen Sports enter the restroom at 1:03 p.m., then exit two minutes later without the bag but carrying a black jacket, the affidavit states.

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A manager at Aspen Sports on East Cooper Avenue verified Friday that the Kjus jacket was missing from the store, and that shopping bags from the store were located near where the jacket was hanging, according to the affidavit.

Aspen Police Officer Seth DelGrasso returned to Rubey Park to view additional security footage about 1 p.m. Friday. After looking at video of a white man wearing a blue vest and a black backpack entering the bus station, DelGrasso was about to watch footage from inside the bathroom when Meyers walked up wearing the same vest and backpack, the affidavit states.

"(DelGrasso) is literally looking at images of (Meyers) on the screen and he walks up and says, 'I didn't do it,'" said Aspen Police Detective Jeff Fain, who helped investigate the case.

Fain said he later searched Meyers' apartment and found the Kjus jacket stolen from Aspen Sports, along with five others of the same brand and price range.

People on the street will often approach police officers and say, "I didn't do it," or point to a friend and say, "He did it," as a joke, Fain said.

Meyers also faced theft and burglary charges in 2014, when an orange North Face jacket with the words "The Little Nell" emblazoned on the breast, along with other items, were stolen but never recovered from an employee section of the hotel, Fain said.

That exact jacket was recovered from Meyers' apartment Friday, he said, adding that he plans on returning it to its owner.

jauslander@aspentimes.com