Second rash of West Vail thieves hit at least seven unlocked vehicles | VailDaily.com

Second rash of West Vail thieves hit at least seven unlocked vehicles

The vehicle break-ins were concentrated in West Vail. (Google Maps)

VAIL — Thieves rolled through West Vail once again on Monday night, Oct. 16, looking for unlocked doors and found as many as seven.

However, one car probably unlocked itself.

Vail Police said a white 2017 Yukon was stolen from the 1300 block of Westhaven Drive on Monday night. The Yukon was a rental, and the rental company provided its client one key, said Vail Detective Sgt. Luke Causey.

The person told police he locked the vehicle and took the key into the house with him. He had that key with him when police investigated, Causey said.

Some new vehicles have a feature that prevents you from locking your keys in your vehicle. The vehicle's electronics will sense that there is a key inside and unlock itself. Causey said that might be what happened in this case.

"He did lock it and had the key inside the house," Causey said.

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When they investigated, Vail Police found the second key sitting on the seat.

Police recovered the stolen Yukon and got some video of the alleged thief in the driver's seat. After the alleged thief ditched the Yukon, he and someone else went to a local coffee shop, where they paid cash for their purchases.

Suspected in seven break-ins

Police said their suspect might be involved in some, if not all, of seven West Vail break-ins between 10 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16, and 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17.

All seven were in the south side of West Vail, police said, in the Westhaven Drive, Matterhorn Drive and West Gore Creek Drive areas. Police said it looked like someone was checking for unlocked vehicle doors and stealing property.

If you see something that should not be, then call the police, Causey said.

"We live in a very safe community, but once in a while you get a knucklehead who does something like this," Causey said. "There is a baseline for your community and neighborhood. You know what's normal, and if you see something that's out of that baseline, that's what we want to know about."

Causey said investigators don't believe a criminal enterprise is at work, but rather, the incidents appear to be crimes of opportunity. No specific items are being targeted.

"Lock your car and don't leave anything valuable inside," Causey said.

Home invasion

A suspect upped the ante Monday night by entering the side door of a garage in the 1600 block of Matterhorn Drive and then a lock-off apartment off the garage. The suspect entered the vehicle parked in the garage and stole several items, including binoculars, and then entered the lock-off where someone was sleeping. Police say the suspect went through the sleeping occupant's bag and stole $50 and some other property.

"We're stepping up patrols, and officers should roll through those areas every couple minutes," Causey said.

Monday night's break-ins come on the heels of a different string of half dozen West Vail break-ins.

Most had one thing in common: Vehicles were unlocked, Causey said.

Property from one of the other car break-ins was recovered when the thieves traveled to the Front Range and tried to use the credit cards they stole. Those credit cards were declined, Causey said.

Besides the break-ins, two cars were stolen last week in West Vail. Both vehicles were unlocked with the keys in them, Causey said.

Both were recovered within 24 hours. One was found on the Front Range and was towed back to the valley. The other was found in a West Vail parking garage.

Neither vehicle was damaged or wrecked, and it does not appear that anything valuable was taken from the two stolen vehicles. Both stolen vehicles were processed for fingerprints and DNA, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation is doing the analysis, Causey said.

Here's what to do

Register your gear: Vail Police and other local law enforcement will register skis and snowboards, making them much easier to trace in case they're stolen or someone takes them by mistake.

Report leads: Eagle County Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for information about the thefts. Call 970-328-TIPS to submit a tip. For further inquires or to report any possible leads, call Vail Det. Sgt. Luke Causey at 970-479-2346 or email lcausey@vailgov.com.

Use common sense: Lock your car and take your keys. It's simple enough, but many thefts occur because owners make it easy for thieves to steal their cars.

Install a warning device: Having and using a visible or audible warning device is another item that can ensure that your car remains where you left it.

Or an immobilizing device: Generally speaking, if your vehicle can't be started, it can't be stolen. "Kill" switches, fuel cut-offs and smart keys are among the devices that are extremely effective.

Or a tracking device: A tracking device emits a signal to the police or to a monitoring station when the vehicle is stolen. Tracking devices are very effective in helping authorities recover stolen vehicles. Some systems employ "telematics," which combine GPS and wireless technologies to allow remote monitoring of a vehicle. If the vehicle is moved, the system will alert the owner and the vehicle can be tracked via computer.

Source: Local law enforcement and National Insurance Crime Bureau

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.