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Car thieves target unmarked sheriff’s car

POSTED: Friday, September 23, 2011 - 11:10am

UPDATED: Friday, September 23, 2011 - 12:09pm

Colorado police have located the unmarked sheriff's deputy's car which was stolen from a sheriff's deputy's apartment complex parking lot, but items from the car are still missing.

Westminster Police found the vehicle after receiving a suspicious-vehicle call around 2:40 p.m.

However, the AR-15 rifle with three 30-round magazines and the concealable ballistic bulletproof vest are still missing.

"It is kept secure in the car," Commander Rick Brough with the Boulder County Sheriff's Office said. "But, of course, somebody has time and the proper equipment; they can definitely break into something like that."

Commander Brough says the items are in a trunk vault with a combination lock on it.

Deputies won't release details about how the trunk was breached.

Brough says the detective thinks he made a mistake that could happen to almost anybody.

"He said when he went into his apartment, his hands were full. He was carrying a bunch of things," said Brough. "So, he's saying he might've left the keys in the door."

Brough believes it could've been a crime of opportunity with the thief not knowing at first that a detective's car was being stolen.

The rifle, rounds and vest were in the car at the time of the theft.

Residents in the Lakeview apartment complex in Westminster where the detective lives say that it is not a safe place.

"There's been a stabbing in the other building. This is not unusual at all, but it's scary," Brooke Riedeo, a neighbor, said.

Neighbors in the area where the deputy's car was found weren't surprised it had been ditched there.

"It's scary," neighbor Pam Butterbaugh said.

Butterbaugh doesn't recall seeing the black 2005 Ford Taurus at 6 a.m. Thursday morning when she left for work, but she does think whoever dumped it here must have known her apartment complex had a large parking lot.

Knowing someone stole the AR 15 rifle and ammo out of the back isn't sitting well with neighbors.

"We got kids around here, we got a school right there," Butterbaugh said.

"It's scary because if a kid got it, a teenager, and he wanted to show off. Hey, he could shoot me, he could shoot himself," neighbor Betty Lasley said.

Lasley says people ditch their cars in the area quite often.

Brough says he can't get into details about whether the deputy will be punished because it's a personnel issue.

He did say that because of this incident, the department is going to look into the cost of outfitting all unmarked cars with GPS.

Investigators and neighbors alike hope the weapon isn't used to commit more crimes.

"It's really scary," said Riedeo. "Some person, innocent, could be hurt really bad."

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