Repeat car theft suspect arrested on Vail Pass
Drunken driver allegedly falls out of vehicle while in traffic queue
Colorado car theft suspect Ulices Venzor was arrested again on Monday after crashing a stolen car on Vail Pass.
During the brief traffic backup that occurred on I-70 as officers arrested Venzor, a drunken driver was reported to have fallen out of his vehicle while in the vehicle queue.
Trooper Jacob Best, in diverting his attention from Venzor to the drunk-driving suspect, said the man passed out and rolled into the car behind him before waking up and attempting to flee the scene.
“I had to jump in through the window and put the vehicle into park,” Best said.
All of this occurred at about 12:15 p.m. Monday.
“It was not your typical Monday afternoon in the High Country,” Best said.
Booked and released
Venzor, 28, of Denver, has been booked and released multiple times in recent months for crimes related to car thefts. Most recently, he was arrested in Adams County on May 10.
When troopers encountered him on Monday, “He was already out on bond for at least six different motor vehicle theft related charges,” Best said.
Avon Police Chief Greg Daly was frustrated to learn that Venzor had crashed a stolen vehicle on Monday after knowing that Venzor was also arrested a month ago in Adams County.
“It’s terrible to hear,” Daly said. “Very disheartening to hear. The criminal justice system is supposed to serve our victims and show them justice. But it’s not showing them justice if criminals are back on the street again doing the exact same thing a week later.”
Daly said in recent weeks, the Avon Police Department has collaborated with the Vail Police Department to put together a case on Venzor. Daly says Venzor is a suspect in crimes which put public safety at risk, including high-speed pursuits and driving under the influence of narcotics.
“He was put into custody last month after he was found in a stolen vehicle, apparently they found $30,000 in catalytic converters,” Daly said.
Catalytic converters were reported stolen from vehicles in the Vail Mountain School parking lot in East Vail in April.
“We had generated a case against (Venzor), where we’re asking the district attorney’s office to use the Colorado Organized Crime Act,” Daly said. “Vail PD and Avon PD had generated a warrant on him with the COCA rider.”
But the efforts of the local police departments to keep Venzor incarcerated were occurring as Venzor was being released in Adams County, Daly said.
“I’ve lost count of the amount of motor vehicle thefts this guy has been responsible for, and in the Adams County case, he had two guns in the car, and there’s been other cases where guns have been found in these cars,” Daly said. “There has to be a point at which somebody has to make the decision to keep this guy on remand, and not release him to the general public.”
Daly said through attempts to get information out of Venzor, authorities have learned that he is in contact with a large network of car thieves. More motor vehicle thefts have occurred in the last year than Daly has ever seen in his 25 years as an officer in the area.
“With all the motor vehicle thefts that have occurred over the last six to eight months, we have seen that a lot of these individuals come from Adams County and from Denver,” Daly said.
Part of the problem is the brazen and dangerous nature of the crimes, which Daly says is escalating.
In April, I-70 was closed through Avon as a stolen vehicle was reported to be traveling 100 to 110 miles per hour the wrong way down the interstate.
“One of our troopers narrowly missed getting struck by this vehicle as it continued the wrong direction at a high rate of speed,” Best said.
Daly said in the interest of public safety, Avon Police officers can’t pursue a stolen vehicle on the freeway, “but boy do they still go 100 miles per hour and do all these crazy things anyway, and they don’t even have cops behind them,” he said. “So it’s more and more concerning, from our perspective.”
Flurry of activity
The first report of a stolen vehicle on Monday occurred from Beaver Liquors in Avon.
“This was a punched ignition and the door was locked, so it was obviously somebody who knew what they were doing,” Daly said.
Best said the vehicle stolen from Beaver Liquors was then matched in the description of a report of a vehicle driving recklessly in the Wolcott area headed eastbound.
“Myself and a couple other troopers try and locate this vehicle, we’re having difficulty locating it, and while we’re all driving eastbound we then get reports of it losing control and crashing into the wall about about mile post 186, 187, halfway up Vail Pass. And then we immediately started getting 911 calls that the subject that was in that vehicle has now ran across the road, jumped on the sidewalk, was running away, ran back to the scene and then was walking away once the fire department arrived.”
The subject was Venzor, but the vehicle, however, was not the car that was stolen from Avon.
That vehicle “was left down by Buck Creek Condos on West Beaver Creek Boulvard, nothing apparently taken from within the vehicle and no other cars stolen from that area,” Daly said.
In checking the vehicle that Venzor crashed on Vail Pass, first responders noticed the the steering wheel column appeared to be punched out and hot wired.
“That vehicle was confirmed to be stolen out of Glenwood, and hadn’t been reported yet,” Best said. “It was not the vehicle that had been stolen out of Avon, even though it matched the description.”
The Colorado State Patrol sent officers and troopers over to Glenwood Springs to locate the owner of the stolen vehicle, Best said.
“He in fact confirmed his vehicle was no longer in his driveway,” Best said.
Meanwhile, on Vail Pass, Venzor was enjoying one of the activities which draws many to the area, a jog down the recreation path that runs alongside the interstate.
An officer intercepted him and took him down at gunpoint, Best said.
In addition to violating the terms of his bond from the May 10 arrest, Venzor was charged with motor vehicle theft, driving under restraint, failing to notify after a hit and run, reckless driving, and DUI as officers suspected he was under the influence of methamphetamine, Best said.
The arrest of Venzor “is a piece of the major theft ring,” that has beset Summit County, Eagle County and Garfield County in recent months, Best said.
Traffic was stopped during Venzor’s accident and arrest, and witnesses saw one driver show signs of public intoxication while stuck in the traffic queue, Best said.
“The driver allegedly falls out of his truck, gets back into his truck, and then traffic starts flowing, so we’re trying to make our way back to him, he actually passes out in his truck and rolls into the vehicle behind him,” Best said. “I go back down to deal with this guy, he tries to drive off, and I had to jump in through the window and put the vehicle into park,” Best said.
The man, a Rifle, Colorado, resident who shares dual residency with Texas, was charged with his fourth-or-subsequent felony DUI arrest.