Avon man reports dozens of crimes
Vail, CO Colorado
AVON, Colorado ” Omar Loya keeps a police scanner behind the counter at the Phillips 66 in Avon.
He works the late shift ” 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. It’s usually pretty slow, pretty quiet. So he listens carefully to the chatter of Vail Dispatch ” fire alarms, car wrecks, burglaries.
He picks out the details, suspect descriptions, license plates. One time, after hearing that a car was stolen in Vail, he saw the same car pull up in his parking lot. He made a call, and the man was arrested.
Not long ago, he turned in someone on Eagle County’s most wanted list who came into the store. He looks up their mugshots on the computer.
Mostly, he turns in people who are drinking and driving. If someone comes stumbling into his store, obviously drunk and behind the wheel, Loya will call the police. He’s not trying to hunt down people, he said, just get the worst bunch off the streets.
“If I’m at the register, I do what I have to do,” Loya said. “I’d rather them not kill someone on the road. My family could be out there.”
Loya has reported more than 68 crimes to the Avon police, said police chief Brian Kozak. More importantly ” his calls have lead to 16 DUI arrests.
Almost certainly, Loya has prevented someone from being injured, or even killed, on the road, Kozak said. Loya was recently honored for his service before the Avon Town Council.
Loya has lived in Avon since 1998 with his wife and three children. He operates the Phillips 66 with his wife through a franchise deal.
He says you never know what you’ll run into at night. There are, of course, the drunks, who are pretty unpredictable. There are the crazies, the screamers and the cursers. Greyhound buses can be a problem ” lots of people hop off, and most are unfamiliar faces. A few months ago, about $40 worth of stuff was stolen after a visit by a Greyhound.
“It can be pretty scary late at night. Sometimes, I tend to put my hand near that panic button,” Loya said.
When he’s not behind the counter, he helps police reach out to the Latino community, Kozak said.
He’s translated for police at community meetings, like one recently held at one of the trailer parks. People trust him, tell him about their problems and fears, and he’s able to relate that to the police.
“Some of the population is afraid of the police, because of our relationship with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” Kozak said.
Loya said communication has always been difficult between police and the Hispanic community ” he hopes he’s helped.
“They come to me, tell me about their problem, what they’ve got going on, and I think it’s worked out pretty good,” Loya said.
Because he knows the community so well, he can sometimes point police in the right direction on criminal investigations, Kozak said.
“He’s just a real good community member ” people trust him, and they should. He’s an honest individual who runs a straight forward, honest business,” Kozak said.
What drives Loya is his family ” he worries about their safety all the time, and that’s why he helps out.
“There’s lots of things getting out of hand. It’s getting scary out there, and I’m just trying to do my part,” Loya said.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or email@example.com.
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