Car stealing suspects caught in Rio Blanco fit pattern of group targeting Vail area
A pair of stolen car suspects who traveled through Vail on Monday were apprehended in northwest Colorado after an hours-long chase.
The suspects – driver Patricia Rae Stead-Pacheco, 31, of Denver and passenger Jose Munoz-Jara, 21, – used similar tactics as a group of car thieves which has been targeting Eagle County over the last few months.
Per the Moffat County Sheriff, Munoz-Jara originally presented a Texas ID claiming he was Lucian Cisneros Santibanez, 24, of San Antonio, and faces additional charges.
Colorado State Trooper Jacob Best said a driver fitting Stead’s profile was described by witnesses in other car theft incidents in the area, and the early-morning time of the incident on Monday is also consistent with the other car thefts. More than a dozen cars were stolen in October and November in the Vail area.
Monday’s incident began at about 6:30 a.m. in Silverthorne when a 2002 Volkswagen Golf was stolen from residential neighborhood.
“The vehicle was observed in Vail by Vail Police and some troopers in the area,” Best said.
Rather than giving immediate chase, officers followed at a distance on I-70, so they would not alert the driver. In other recent stolen car scenarios the suspects fled at high speeds when officers attempted to stop them, creating a dangerous situation from which officers felt it was better to disengage.
“We know they always like to run, which would be consistent with what we’ve been dealing with … so we were monitoring them, with multiple agencies watching, observing and staying at distances,” Best said of Monday’s incident. “It’s a huge advantage to us to have a statewide radio system that allows us to talk with agencies from all over the state and coordinate plans.”
The suspects exited interstate 70 in the Rifle area, and officers attempted to stop them.
“The suspect observed one of our unmarked officers, crashed into him, and fled the scene from there at the Rifle exit,” Best said.
The suspects then attempted, unsuccessfully, an armed car jacking in an area north of Rifle.
“They were becoming more aggressive,” Best said. “At this point it was starting to meet the criteria where it was becoming more of a public safety risk and we needed to get them stopped.”
Officers used stopping sticks to deflate the vehicle’s tires near the border of Rio Blanco and Moffat County on Highway 13.
“The vehicle ran out of tread, was running on rims, they turned off the road onto a dirt road where they couldn’t go any further, and they were taken into custody without further issue,” Best said.
Best said he didn’t have all the charges immediately available on Monday.
“They’re looking into the weapons violation with the armed carjacking, and some other issues with our troopers,” Best said.
Best said other assisting agencies included Garfield County Sheriff, Rio Blanco County Sheriff, Meeker PD, National Forest Law Enforcement, Moffat County Sheriff’s office and Craig PD.