Two Aspen restaurants hit by brazen thieves, take $20k combined | VailDaily.com

Two Aspen restaurants hit by brazen thieves, take $20k combined

Jason Auslander, Aspen Times

Aspen police do not yet know if two brazen restaurant burglaries in the past week that netted about $20,000 in cash are related, an APD spokesman said Thursday.

“We’re still trying to run leads down so we’re not sure about that yet,” Sgt. Rick Magnuson said. “We have some people to interview. … I wouldn’t say they’re suspects at this point.”

The first burglary occurred Saturday at Mi Chola, 411 E. Main St., in broad daylight, said Adam Malmgren, owner and general manager.

“It happened right in the middle of the (day) shift,” he said Thursday. “A door was kicked in.”

Malmgren didn’t want to release further details and said he had no leads or ideas as to who might have been behind the theft. Magunson said $5,000 in cash was taken from the restaurant’s safe.

The second burglary occurred early New Year’s Day at Brunelleschi’s, 205 S. Mill St., said Gil Vanderaa, the restaurant’s owner. The staff locked up and left around 12:30 a.m., he said.

Sometime between then and about 6:30 a.m., a burglar armed with a pry bar broke open the front door and headed straight for an office at the back of the restaurant, which was unlocked, he said. The person or person loaded up a 100-pound safe, about 22 inches high by 18 inches deep by 12 inches wide, onto a kitchen mat and slid it out the door, Vanderaa said.

The safe contained about $15,000 in cash of pooled employee tip money from the holiday week, he said, adding that he plans to reimburse employees.

“The new safe’s going to be bolted to the floor,” Vanderaa said. “We already got it ordered.”

His video surveillance system was not working at the time, though he pointed out that numerous businesses in his building have cameras.

“We’re one of the most affordable places in town,” Vanderaa said. “Why us?”

As if answering his own question, however, Vanderaa speculated that the culprit might be a disgruntled former employee or someone who knows the employee.

No other Aspen restaurants have reported burglaries recently, Magnuson said.

The last burglary in the downtown core was at Meridian Jewelers, 525 E. Cooper Ave., on Oct. 30, when two masked men used a pry bar to break in and steal $60,000 worth of watches, he said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com