Sting nabs hotel theft suspects
Though it may appear a vacationing family is staying there, the real guests may be Vail police detectives and their surveillance equipment on a stakeout for thieves on the hotel’s staff.
Police say hotel theft is not widespread, but Vail detectives have arrested two housekeepers on the staff of a hotel in town after guests complained to management about cash vanishing from their rooms, Vail police Detective Sgt. Mike Warren says.
“We did room setups and we caught three people taking money that worked for the hotel in different capacities,” Warren says. “We’ve arrested two of them and we’re still trying to track down a third.”
Gerald Cobb, 21, and Angelo Vasquez, 19, both of Eagle-Vail, were allegedly caught taking cash from a room police set up to trap them, Warren says.
Investigators did not pounce the first time the suspects took the cash, Warren says.
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“As we caught them, we continued to investigate,” he says.
Cobb faces investigation for two misdemeanor counts of theft while Vasquez faces investigation for three misdemeanor counts of theft, Warren says.
They were both arrested late last week. Police are still searching for a third suspect from the hotel’s housekeeping staff, Warren says.
“We’d received several theft reports from a local hotel, so we contacted the management to tell them we were capable of doing a room setup,” Warren says. “They allowed us to have a room for almost a week.”
Warren did not identify the hotel and didn’t give details about how investigators set up rooms to lure theft suspects.
“Basically, we used several different methods of surveillance to catch the person that’s being dishonest,” Warren says.
The room is set up different every time, he says.
“We always change how we do things,” Warren says. “We want to put this out as a warning. They will never know when we’re there. They’ll never know whether it’s a guest’s room or the police department.”
Police will set up rooms at other hotels where guests say their money is being stolen, Warren says.
“We want other hotels to know we have this service if they’re having problems,” he says.
“We get complaints, and if it starts becoming a habit, we’ll start looking at it. Then we work together and try to catch the thieves red-handed,” Warren adds.
But most of the time, when guests complain money or other belongings have been stolen, it turns out not to be a theft at all, Warren says.
“A lot of times we get theft reports and it turns out the item was lost by a guest or they left it at home,” he says. “It turns out to be an honest mistake by the guest.”
Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at email@example.com.