ATM bandit pleads guilty in Grand Junction
GRAND JUNCTION, Colorado – Admitted ATM bandit Eric Callaghan last week pleaded guilty to more felony charges and faces up to 18 years for robbing 22 automatic teller machines in Mesa County.
The guilty pleas came two weeks after he admitted robbing 25 ATMs in Eagle and Summit counties. He faces up 12 years in prison for his Eagle and Summit county crime spree.
He’ll be sentenced July 6 in Grand Junction, and that’s when the judge will decide whether the 18 years he owes Mesa County will be served in addition to or at the same time as the 12-year Eagle/Summit sentence he faces, said Jeremy Savage, Mesa County deputy district attorney.
Callaghan broke into 25 ATMs in Eagle and Summit counties. He admitted last week to breaking into 22 more in Grand Junction.
How he got caught
Lt. Greg Daly, Avon Detective Jeremy Holmstrom and Avon Detective Sgt. Jonathan Lovins were all part of a multi-agency team that caught Callaghan using “sophisticated police tools,” they said.
A mistake during an Avon burglary got him caught. Daly, Homstrom and Lovins recounted the arrest this way:
Callaghan used two grinders to break into an Avon ATM, then threw them in the trash behind the building.
Officer Yvonne Ramirez, as part of her crime scene invetigation, looked into a Dumpster at the rear of the business, and spotted the grinders.
They started looking around for places that sold power tools and found their way to Wal-Mart.
Holmstrom worked with Wal-Mart’s manager and asset protection manager, and they figured out that Callaghan paid cash for the grinders about 3 a.m. Nov. 19, minutes before his last burglary.
Callaghan showed up at Wal-Mart in a taxi, purchased the grinders with cash, came out and got in the same taxi.
Through the cooperation of the taxi company, they got a phone number. The police got a search warrant for the phone, and that got them the phone’s history, what phone numbers had been called, and where it was.
They also learned that the phone was in Nebraska, as was Callaghan.
On Thanksgiving night Daly rang the police chief in that small Nebraska community. He was the only officer on duty, so he went to the location and ran the license plates on the car.
When they learned who lived there, they went to Facebook. That enabled them to link the phone to Callaghan.
They figured out Callaghan was back in Colorado, and put him under surveillance.
Callaghan was acting suspiciously, doing either counter surveillance maneuvers, selecting another target or trying to get out of town.
They decided it was time to move.
When they contacted Callaghan at a local hotel, he had a carry-on size bag with him. They took him to the Avon police department for a chat.
They applied for a warrant to search the bag and while two of them were conducting the interview, the third searched that bag.
In that bag they found an ATM drawer from one of his first burglaries. He kept it as both a souvenir and as a practice tool, they said.
When Grand Junction police investigators interviewed him the next day, he wasn’t quite as surprised.
It took nearly two years to catch him, they said. Callaghan’s burglary spree cost more than $100,000 in lost cash and damages.
Melina Valsecia said her experience as an immigrant in Eagle County helped her understand the need for a new way of looking at how service providers engage with the growing Latino population, many of whom are first- or second-generation immigrants.