Man arrested for three recent car thefts in Garfield County | VailDaily.com

Man arrested for three recent car thefts in Garfield County

Thomas Phippen, Post Independent

A man suspected of perpetrating a string of vehicle thefts in the Rifle area was arrested New Year’s Eve morning.

Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Ryan Owens, 28, Tuesday near the Western Star Inn in Rifle, where he was sitting in a stolen Jeep Cherokee, according to court documents.

The Jeep was reported stolen from a Parachute neighborhood around 6 a.m. Dec. 31.

When a deputy arrived on the scene, he noticed a white Honda Civic nearby.

“The most recent reported stolen vehicle was a white Honda Civic reported that morning,” the deputy wrote in a probable cause statement.

The Honda was stolen from less than a quarter-mile away.

The officer also learned that a Suburban parked near where the Jeep was stolen, had been reported stolen.

The owner of the stolen Jeep provided a picture, which was sent to sheriff’s deputies.

Soon after, patrols spotted the blue Jeep in Rifle, with Owens sitting in it with the engine running.

After arresting Owens, officers found a loaded 9 mm handgun, with the safety off and lying on the seat, as well as nearly 12 grams of white crystals suspected to be methamphetamine and other paraphernalia.

Owens faces charges for three counts of motor vehicle theft, criminal trespass, possession of controlled substances, and possessing a weapon as a previous offender – all felonies.

Owens previously pleaded guilty to felonies, including four counts of aggravated vehicle thefts committed in Denver between 2016 and 2018. He was out on parole serving a three-year prison sentence.

In his first appearance in the 9th District Court Thursday, Judge Anne Norrdin did not set a bond because of the parole hold.

Prosecutor Tony Hershey said that if bond is set in the future, it should be high.

“If Mr. Owens is not in custody, he is a threat not just here, but to other counties in this state,” Hershey said.

A number of vehicles were reported stolen, primarily in Rifle but also further west in Parachute over the past week.

Law enforcement suspected some of those thefts were connected, but it’s unclear if Owens is responsible for more than the three instances mentioned in the probable cause statement.

Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein said other car thefts are still being investigated.

To be vigilant against potential theft, the Sheriff’s office advises people to never leave their car unattended while running, even to warm it up, and not to leave extra keys in the vehicle or a hidden box near the car.

Whenever possible, leaving a car in a well-lit area and visible to passersby can decrease the likelihood of theft.

Leaving valuables in a car can also attract would-be thieves.

If you notice suspicious people hanging around the car, the sheriff’s office advises people to take a picture – as long as that doesn’t put you in danger – and call authorities.

The Garfield County non-emergency dispatch line is 970-625-8095.

tphippen@postindependent.com