Walt Vanatta: Police beat for September

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Below is my summary of my monthly report to the Craig City Council, regarding Police Department activity for September.

Crime of the month

Rumor control: On top of this month's crime list was a reported armed robbery of a local business. An employee was approached at midday by a male suspect with a knife, who is reported to have forcibly taken money from the employee. The case is under investigation. However, the case took on a life of its own, possibly due to another armed robbery at a local convenience store in August.

Information began circulating about a "rash" of robberies around Craig and numerous "robberies" at convenience stores with the victims being confronted by suspects when they returned to their cars from paying for gas. The department does not consider Craig to be in the midst of a "rash" of robberies. Yes, in past years, we have not seen armed robberies occurring in large numbers, and we do not consider two to be a "rash." We are concerned that the economy, rising prices and drug abuse issues may contribute to a trend in such crimes. We certainly want to clarify that the other issue concerning victims being robbed in convenience store parking lots isn't valid, and no reports of this activity have been made.

Other notable crimes

Not so funny money: More counterfeit money appeared at several businesses during the month. Counterfeit $20 bills were passed, and information was developed in a couple of the incidents that led to the arrest of a 45-year-old male.

Who do you trust: The morning after inviting several people to their residence, the host found that a burglary had occurred in the garage, which had been converted for television viewing. The host discovered the TV, a surround sound system and some other items missing. This investigation identified a 39-year-old male as the suspect and a warrant is pending for his arrest. The majority of the stolen items were recovered. The suspect also is being investigated for the theft of a company truck belonging to his employer.

Big brother watching: Three juvenile males assumed they were being clever as they checked cars in the parking lot of a local chain store. They eventually walked away with their "goods," which were later found to be a stolen wallet and purse. They were contacted by officers who were acting on information about their "suspicious" behavior. I should mention the information was being collected and called in by an off-duty Craig police officer, who was watching as the crimes were committed. Here's your sign!

A constant reminder: Parking lot, curbside, driveway, it doesn't matter. Don't leave your car unlocked with valuables inside.

Code enforcement

Code Enforcement Officer Becky Otis and Community Service Officer Connie Davis handled the following calls in September:

• Spoke to the owners and red tagged seven abandoned vehicles. One vehicle was towed.

• Two weed complaints. The property owners were spoken to, and they brought the property into compliance.

• Two code violations. The property owners were spoken to, and they brought the property into compliance.

• One junk/trash violation. The property owner was spoken to, and the property was brought into compliance.

Miscellaneous

The 2008-09 Safety Belt Awards Program began in September. Corporal Bryan Gonzales is coordinating this program.

Training

On Sept. 8, corporal Gonzales and officer Frank Schmedeke attended RADAR/LIDAR training in Craig.

On Sept. 11 and 12, records manager Dixie Beck attended the Colorado Certified Records Technician Fall Conference in Gunnison.

Sept. 14 through 19, officer Mike Edwards attended the National Rifle Association of America Law Enforcement Handgun Instructor School in Castle Rock.

Sept. 15 through 19, school resource officer Storm Fallon attended the Annual Colorado Auto Theft Investigators Conference in Colorado Springs.

Sept. 24 through 26, detective Jen Kenney attended the Colorado Association of Sex Crimes Investigators Conference in Lakewood.

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