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Three charged for summer burglaries

Three Pagosa Springs men who confessed to committing six burglaries over the summer, including four church burglaries, have been formally charged and two have entered guilty pleas.

Joshua Trout, 19, pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary and three counts of theft on Oct. 19; Robert Rader, 21, pleaded guilty to five counts of burglary and five counts of theft on the same day.

Both men are set for sentencing Dec. 7.

Jonathan Gustafson, 19, has been charged with five counts of burglary and five counts of theft.

Gustafson is expected to appear in court within the next couple of weeks, said Deputy District Attorney Alex Lowe.

Residential burglary charges on the men are classified as class 3 felonies, while the other charges are a mix of class 4 felonies and misdemeanors, Lowe said.

At their sentencings on Dec. 7, Rader is looking at a stipulated two-year prison sentence, Lowe explained, while Trout is looking at a probationary sentence.

The charges on the three men are the consequence of a series of four church burglaries from May to July and two residential burglaries — one in May in Aspen Springs by Rader and one in July committed by Trout and Rader, with the victim being Gustafson’s mother’s home.

All three men were not involved in all of the burglaries.

Trout and Rader were arrested on charges of second-degree burglary, theft and criminal mischief shortly after a residential burglary on July 10 following strong investigative work by Deputy Michael Bishop of the Archuleta County Sheriff Office.

The burglary was carried out when Trout entered his ex-wife’s portion of a house she shared with Gustafson’s mother. Trout then moved to the other portion of the house and admitted Rader.

Items stolen from the house, which included a safe, jewelry, papers and more, were later found hidden in bushes and buried.

Bishop and Det. George Barter found the safe containing burnt items in some bushes north of the intersection of U.S. Forest Service roads 628 and 629, in the Turkey Springs area. The safe was covered with a camouflage shirt and had visible pry marks in addition to removed hinges, according to incident reports.

Barter reported that what appeared to be all of the jewelry, some credit cards and some personal papers were recovered from a hole located off of U.S. 550 in La Plata County after the men informed him of the location.

With the two men in custody, Barter wondered if the two knew anything about the church burglaries. The two refused to talk about the burglaries at the time.

Barter was then contacted by an informant who claimed to know where the items from the church burglaries were, giving a generic description of a trailer in the Vista subdivision.

Barter was able to figure out who owned the trailer and found out that the suspects had lived in the trailer, trashed it and left belongings there.

Barter recovered two computers and a guitar belonging to the churches from the trailer.

By “doing everything you can do in an investigation and not leaving things undone,” Barter was able to learn about Gustafson’s involvement.

“At first he (Gustafson) pretty much denied everything,” Barter said, but through Barter’s “hard shoe-leather detective work” and confessions by Rader and Trout, Gustafson confessed.

All three were cooperative throughout the process of being charged, Lowe said.

randi@pagosasun.com