Sheriff seeks answers in Vail Valley car break-in spree |

Sheriff seeks answers in Vail Valley car break-in spree

Dustin Racioppi
Vail Valley, CO Colorado

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado ” Just in time for the holidays, vandals and thieves are out in force in Eagle County.

The Sheriff’s Office has reported at least 43 cars or trucks have been broken into within the last month, and the number is rising, spokeswoman Shannon Cordingly said.

A lack of leads and suspects has left the Sheriff’s Office perplexed in trying to explain the recent torrent of break-ins.

“We do not have an idea why all of a sudden we’re having this,” Sheriff Joe Hoy said. “It could be the economy. It could be bored teenagers. We don’t have a real feel for it right now.”

What’s known is where and how most of the vandalism is happening. According to a press release sent out last week, most of the cars broken into had their windows smashed. Places that have been targeted the most include the underground parking garage at Riverwalk in Edwards, the parking lot behind Eagle’s Capitol Theater and the Wolcott Park N Ride.

Hoy said his deputies will increase their patrols through those and other places to try and root out the culprits who have caused thousands of dollars in damage to people’s property.

“We’re doing everything we can,” Cordingly said. “Right now it hasn’t been enough to stop them from happening.”

However, the Sheriff’s Office will need help combating the crimes. It’s not as if there’s a loaded budget and a wealth of deputies ready to trawl local parking lots for window-smashing miscreants. It’s up to the current staff, which is already run ragged with other calls, Hoy said.

“It just puts one more thing on their plate they have to deal with,” Hoy said. “Depending on the calls that come in and the staffing at the time, it can be a little demanding.”

Hoy said he intends enlist the help of the Colorado Department of Transportation as an extra set of eyes. Spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said there isn’t much the department can do beyond that, and can only keep a watchful eye on its property, like the Wolcott parking lot.

“We can’t enforce anything, we would call law enforcement,” she said.

Aside from routine “mechanical” patrols of its lots ” making sure lights are working or that there are till clear lines demarcating parking spots ” Shanks said the department doesn’t check specifically for trouble, though it’s a possibility. There are no cameras, buildings or facilities at the lots that really warrant routine monitoring.

“It’s literally just an area of asphalt,” Shanks said.

At the Wolcott area of asphalt, Diane Schmidt’s gray Audi was targeted twice within a few weeks. The first time was just before Thanksgiving.

“They weren’t successful the first time so they decided to try it again,” the Wolcott resident said.

The second time, on Dec. 9, her windows were smashed and the door was damaged, causing an estimated $3,700 of damage, the sheriff’s report said. Schmidt isn’t sure of the motives either, but the smash-and-grab was definitely weird.

They left the expensive radar system and all the change in the car, but instead took about $18 in cash and, for whatever reason, Schmidt’s prescription glasses.

“I can’t come up with anything or a justifiable explanation why they did it other than they were being malicious,” she said. “It was certainly a rude awakening.”

Schmidt, who works at Vail Valley Medical Center and carpools every day, said it was even more surprising to hear she wasn’t the only victim. She won’t be parking at the Wolcott location until whoever’s behind the vandalism is caught, she said.

“I just hope it doesn’t happen to anybody else and I hope they get caught,” she said.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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