High Country Crime: Aspen dog-sitter helps self to $160k | SummitDaily.com

High Country Crime: Aspen dog-sitter helps self to $160k

Summit Daily staff report
news@summitdaily.com

A dog-sitter allegedly stole her former employer's checkbook and wrote 45 checks to herself over several months totaling nearly $160,000, according to court documents.

Vanessa Simon, 21, who now lives in Denver, admitted to the theft when a Pitkin County sheriff's deputy called her Friday, according to an affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

Simon told the deputy she doesn't have a job and has been paying her bills using her former Aspen employer's checks, the affidavit states.

"I'm in school and I needed funding," Simon told the deputy, according to the affidavit. "When asked how she got the checks, Simon told me, 'I stole them.'"

Simon worked as a dog-sitter for an Aspen resident until she was fired in May. Since then, 45 of the resident's checks totaling $159,800 were written to Simon and cashed at a bank in Denver, according to the affidavit.

The first check was written April 20, while the most recent check was dated Jan. 8. The 45 individual checks were written for between $500 and $9,500, the affidavit states. All were written to Simon and allegedly signed by the Aspen resident.

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Simon was charged with 45 counts of felony forgery and one count of felony theft.

—Jason Auslander, The Aspen Times

Thieves go riffling through Rifle vacuums for 'some cool stuff'

Rifle police officers were dispatched to Super Wash, a car wash business, on Monday, Feb. 5 after it was reportedly broken into the night before.

An employee of the Super Wash said the nighttime employee locked up around 9:30 p.m. the night before. Between then and when the morning employee arrived at 7:15 a.m., someone had broken into the vacuum cleaner trashcans.

"(The employee) said that every time he empties the vacuum trash receptacles, he collects approximately $20 from loose change that people accidentally vacuum up," an officer wrote in the report.

Padlocks had been cut off and the contents of the trash receptacles were missing.

The night before, the officer had conducted a traffic stop on a white van with no license plates, a ladder on the back and a rusty bumper. The driver, a 48-year-old man, said that he had just purchased the vehicle the same day and hadn't had time to register it yet. He was let go with a warning to register his vehicle within 36 hours.

"I was able to get a good look at both (the man) and the passenger," the officer reported.

Another Rifle officer said on Sunday night at about 11 p.m., he saw a large white van parked at the Super Wash.

"He thought it was strange, so he went around the block, came back, and the van was gone," according to the report. The officers' descriptions of the vehicles matched.

Silt Police alerted Rifle Police later that Monday afternoon that a similar incident had occurred at a Silt car wash the night before. A Silt officer emailed surveillance camera photos of the suspects, which matched the two at the Sunday night Rifle traffic stop.

Officers went to the van driver's home at Herron's Nest RV Park. The driver led police to his passenger, another 48-year-old man who also lived at the RV park.

"(The passenger) told me he originally got into (the driver's) van on Feb. 4 because (he) was going to City Market and (he) needed groceries," an officer wrote in the report.

The passenger said after the officer pulled them over, they went to the Kum&Go. After that, they went to the car wash in Rifle.

"(He) told me they scooped everything out of the bottom of the vacuum cleaners. (He) said they were looking for 'some cool stuff.' (He) said they mostly just took some change," the report read.

The two then went to City Market, and then did the same thing at the car wash in Silt. The men were arrested on burglary, criminal mischief and theft.

—Sallee Ann Ruibal, Glenwood Springs Post-Independent

Hayden man leads police on car chase

A Hayden man was arrested after he led police on a high-speed pursuit early Wednesday morning, Feb. 7.

At about 2 a.m., Hayden police were called after they learned Cliffton Riele, 40, was possibly going to violate a restraining order.

After arriving at a Hayden residence, police saw a car drive away that they believed belonged to Riele.

Police sped down Routt County Road 53 to catch up to the car, but they were unable to.

Hayden police then learned the car "blew by" a Routt County Sheriff's Deputy at a high rate of speed. The deputy pursued the car by going close to 100 mph on U.S. Highway 40 through Mount Harris Canyon toward Steamboat, but the car gained distance, according to an arrest affidavit.

The deputy stopped pursuing the car and went to where he believed Riele was living on Routt County Road 33A.

The deputy found the car crashed into a snow bank.

Riele got out of the car, and the deputy suspected Riele had been drinking.

He was arrested on suspicion of two counts of violation of a protection order, harassment, DUI, reckless driving and eluding.

When tested for alcohol, Riele blew a .254, according to the affidavit.

—Matt Stensland, Steamboat Today