Repeat car theft suspect arrested on Vail Pass |

Repeat car theft suspect arrested on Vail Pass

Police: Man is part of larger car theft ring that has targeted Summit, Eagle and Garfield counties

John LaConte
Vail Daily
Ulices Venzor, 28, of Denver

EAGLE — Colorado car theft suspect Ulices Venzor was arrested Monday, June 14, after crashing a stolen car on Vail Pass.

Venzor, 28, of Denver, has been booked and released multiple times in recent months for crimes related to car thefts. Most recently, he was arrested in Adams County on May 10.

The first report of a stolen vehicle Monday occurred in Avon.

“This was a punched ignition and the door was locked, so it was obviously somebody who knew what they were doing,” Avon Police Chief Greg Daly said.

Colorado State Patrol trooper Jacob Best said the vehicle matched the description of a car reportedly driving recklessly in the Wolcott area headed eastbound.

“Myself and a couple other troopers try and locate this vehicle,“ Best said. ”We’re having difficulty locating it, and while we’re all driving eastbound, we then get reports of it losing control and crashing into the wall at about mile post 186, 187, halfway up Vail Pass. And then we immediately started getting 911 calls that the subject that was in that vehicle has now ran across the road, jumped on the sidewalk, was running away, ran back to the scene and then was walking away once the fire department arrived.”

The subject was Venzor, police said, but the vehicle was not the car that was stolen from Avon.

In checking the vehicle that Venzor crashed on Vail Pass, first responders noticed that the steering column appeared to be hot wired.

“That vehicle was confirmed to be stolen out of Glenwood, and hadn’t been reported yet,” Best said. “It was not the vehicle that had been stolen out of Avon, even though it matched the description.”

Meanwhile, on Vail Pass, Venzor was jogging down the recpath that runs alongside the interstate. An officer intercepted him and took him down at gunpoint, Best said.

In addition to violating the terms of his bond from a previous arrest, Venzor was charged with motor vehicle theft, driving under restraint, failing to notify after a hit-and-run, reckless driving and DUI, as officers suspected he was under the influence of methamphetamine, Best said.

The arrest of Venzor “is a piece of the major theft ring” that has beset Summit, Eagle and Garfield counties in recent months, Best said.

A criminal history

When troopers encountered Venzor Monday, “He was already out on bond for at least six different motor vehicle theft related charges,” Best said.

Daly was frustrated to learn that Venzor had crashed a stolen vehicle Monday after knowing that Venzor had been arrested a month ago in Adams County.

“It’s terrible to hear,” Daly said. “Very disheartening to hear. The criminal justice system is supposed to serve our victims and show them justice. But it’s not showing them justice if criminals are back on the street again doing the exact same thing a week later.”

In recent weeks, the Avon Police Department has collaborated with the Vail Police Department to put together a case on Venzor. Daly said Venzor is a suspect in crimes that put public safety at risk, including high-speed pursuits and driving under the influence of narcotics.

“He was put into custody last month after he was found in a stolen vehicle,“ Daly said. ”Apparently they found $30,000 in catalytic converters.”

Catalytic converters have been reported stolen across Summit and Eagle counties in recent months.

“We had generated a case against (Venzor), where we’re asking the District Attorney’s Office to use the Colorado Organized Crime Act,” Daly said.

But the efforts of the local police departments to keep Venzor incarcerated were occurring as Venzor was being released in Adams County, Daly said.

“I’ve lost count of the amount of motor vehicle thefts this guy has been responsible for, and in the Adams County case, he had two guns in the car, and there’s been other cases where guns have been found in these cars,” Daly said. “There has to be a point at which somebody has to make the decision to keep this guy on remand and not release him to the general public.”

Daly said authorities have learned that Venzor is in contact with a large network of car thieves. More motor vehicle thefts have occurred across Colorado in the past year than Daly has ever seen in his 25 years as an officer in the Eagle County area.

“With all the motor vehicle thefts that have occurred over the last six to eight months, we have seen that a lot of these individuals come from Adams County and from Denver,” Daly said.

Part of the problem is the brazen and dangerous nature of the crimes, which Daly said is escalating.

In April, I-70 was closed through Avon as a stolen vehicle was reported to be traveling 100 to 110 mph the wrong way down the interstate.

“One of our troopers narrowly missed getting struck by this vehicle as it continued the wrong direction at a high rate of speed,” Best said.

In the interest of public safety, Daly said Avon police officers can’t pursue a stolen vehicle on the freeway, “but boy do they still go 100 mph and do all these crazy things anyway, and they don’t even have cops behind them. So it’s more and more concerning, from our perspective.”

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