Dealing with crime in Lake Creek |

Dealing with crime in Lake Creek

Steve LynnVail, CO Colorado
NWS Lake Creek PU 9-28-07

EDWARDS Eagle County Sheriffs Deputy Kyle Hall says hello to people outside Lake Creek Village Apartments as he makes his first of many drives through the parking lot. Lake Creek Village is a high-impact zone, meaning it has one of the highest crime rates for an area its size, Hall said. So deputies make Lake Creek Village a priority in their patrols, he said. If were not on calls, were directed to hang out in those areas as much as possible, Hall said. Reported crime in Lake Creek Village consisted of around 10 percent of the total crime in unincorporated Eagle County in 2005 and 2006, according to authorities. The crimes range from burglaries, assault and domestic violence to vandalism, littering and theft, according to Eagle County Sheriffs Office records. Residents enjoy the inexpensive living and put up with the crime, they say.Jose Martinez, a truck driver for Vail Honeywagon, has lived with his family in his three-bedroom apartment, where he pays $1,332 each month for rent, since April. He used to commute from Leadville to the Vail Valley and the drive was treacherous during winter, he said.Its closer to work, I save on gas, so its all right, he said.

Deputies like Hall sometimes find it difficult to patrol the complex, whose residents live close to one another and battle for limited parking, they said.Its definitely scrunched together and people get on each others nerves, said Sheriffs Deputy Donyelle Dewey. Adding to the problem is the language barrier and that additional deputies could be miles away if something serious happens, deputies said. Generally, only two deputies work in Edwards, though police from Avon and Vail also might respond, Hall said. You have to watch your back, Hall said. Lake Creek Village is flanked by Interstate 70 and the Eagle River. Theres no real direct access, Hall said. Crimes tend to take place in more isolated areas. Ten percent seems normal considering that so many people live there, said Rex Gambrell, vice president for Corum Real Estate Group Inc., which manages the property. Lake Creek has 270 apartments, with a mix of one- , two- and three- bedrooms. Gambrell estimates that 850 to 900 people live on the complexs 30 acres, he said.Its affordable housing, so people pay 30 percent of their incomes, which have to be 80 percent of or less than the average median income in Eagle County, he said.

Corum employees do background checks on peoples criminal history when they apply to lease an apartment, Gambrell said. Corum denies applicants who have been convicted of crimes such as burglary, theft and domestic violence. But those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or possession of marijuana (unless they have offended more than once) can live there, he said. Corum Real Estate keeps records of deputies visits and if too many complaints come from one apartment, the tenants are evicted, he said. We try to work really close with the Eagle County Sheriffs Office, Gambrell said. Martinez usually goes to bed early, but he has noticed people drinking in the garages that line the parking lots, he said. From Friday night, up until Sunday, its like a huge party, he said.Once, Martinez saw police raid an apartment, he said. They were over there with their masks and guns, Martinez said.

Take a stroll on a Sunday and you might see kids playing soccer or riding bicycles among the eight-unit apartment buildings. Others are cleaning their cars or sitting on their balconies cooking on grills. Many speak Spanish. Francisco Almaraz, a construction worker who immigrated from Mexico, has lived in Lake Creek Village for four years. Almaraz pays $1,500 for a an apartment where he lives with his family. Like Almaraz, the majority of Lake Creek Village residents are Hispanic, he said. They come from different countries, such as Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, he said. Residents of Lake Creek Village are required to present documentation that they are in the United States legally, Gambrell said. Almaraz said Lake Creek Village is mostly peaceful. Sometimes friends told me this and that, but I never saw anything, he said. For Abel Moran, Lake Creek is a good place to raise his daughter, Monica, and Morans has friends from Mexico living in the same building. I know those people well enough to see that theyre not criminals, Moran said.But Moran dislikes that people speed through the parking lots in their cars, he said. You see there are kids all over the place, he said. You cant drive fast.

Hall thinks that crime subsides when he and other deputies drive through Lake Creek Village a few times each night because visibility alone is a deterrent of crime, he said. But when deputies focus on patrolling a different area (they rotate high-impact zones) crime at Lake Creek Village may return to normal, he said.It may fix the problem for a little bit, but once we leave, things happen, he said. For now, deputies will continue to talk with residents and give children candy and stickers, said Sheriffs Deputy Brad Rosenbauer. Were out there also to build relationships, he said. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or

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