Pagosa Springs Police Department personnel believe they’ve cracked the case of the recent vehicle burglaries along Hot Springs Boulevard — and the suspect is not unfamiliar to area law enforcement.
The suspect, Lon Joseph Peterson, 30, of Pagosa Springs, was recently arrested in La Plata County following a high-speed pursuit, and was wanted on several felony warrants from area agencies, including for another high-speed chase the prior week (the same week as the vehicle burglaries).
Now, the PSPD has issued a warrant for Peterson consisting of six counts of first-degree trespass and a class 5 felony for, “knowingly, unlawfully enters any motor vehicle with the intent to commit a crime.”
Those charges stem from the six different vehicles that were broken into on the morning of Feb. 20, Det. Scott Maxwell of the PSPD said in a Tuesday interview.
On the morning of Feb. 20, nine vehicles parked in the parking lots of the three hotels along Hot Springs Boulevard were entered illegally. The owners of six of the burglarized vehicles filed reports with the PSPD after discovering that items were missing from the vehicles.
The majority of the vehicles were unlocked, with only two showing signs of forced entry, Officer Tony Kopp said.
According to Kopp, the vehicles were burglarized sometime in the morning hours, likely around 6:30 a.m., when one of the victims heard a noise outside and saw someone dressed in black in the alley near the Healing Waters Resort and Spa.
Two vehicles at Healing Waters were affected, with the owners of both reporting missing items. Two vehicles parked outside of The Springs Resort were hit, but nothing was reported missing, Kopp reported.
The majority of the break-ins, five, took place outside of the Oak Ridge Motor Inn. The owners of four of the vehicles reported missing items, Kopp said.
Among the missing items reported to Kopp were wallets, iPods, three laptops, a mobile hotspot device, cell phones, backpacks and a CD case (which was later dropped in the parking lot of the Oak Ridge).
Maxwell said the warrant was issued for Peterson after some of the items stolen in the burglary were found in Peterson’s vehicle following last week’s arrest and property recovered from another suspect was linked to Peterson.
“We were able to tie several items of the property to him, among those items were some items that were recovered from the vehicle that he had been driving when he was arrested in Durango,” said Maxwell.
Maxwell said Peterson is the sole suspect as far as the break-ins are concerned, but he added that the PSPD has other suspects related to the possession or sale of stolen goods.
Because Peterson is still being held in the La Plata County Detention Center following the Feb. 26 high-speed pursuit that began in Durango and ended in Bayfield, Maxwell said a hold will be placed on the suspect.
That hold means Peterson would have to post bond on all existing charges from his several warrants, and, when those charges were cleared, either be transferred to the Archuleta County Detention Center or post bond for the charges in Pagosa Springs.
Peterson is currently being held in La Plata County on nine different bonds, totaling $239,500.
According to a press release from the Colorado State Patrol, Peterson was apprehended following a high-speed chase that began in Durango and ended in Bayfield.
Shortly after 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, Trooper Jason Shimp attempted to stop a 2003 Dodge pickup that was traveling westbound on U.S. 160 near the Home Depot in Durango (mile marker 88) for a violation of Colorado’s “Move Over Law” (failing to move over or slow down for a stationary emergency vehicle with its lights activated).
At that time, “The pickup briefly pulled over to the shoulder, at which time a female passenger jumped out and put her hands in the air,” the press release states.
That woman, identified as Alicia Snow, 42, of Pagosa Springs, was detained by the Durango Police Department on behalf of the CSP, but was released after questioning, according to the press release.
After briefly pulling over, the pickup sped away and a pursuit was initiated by the CSP.
The pickup then turned around near Wal-Mart in Durango and headed eastbound on U.S. 160, reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph.
“Near milepost 98 (Dry Creek), CSP Sgt. Ben Stuever successfully deployed a tire disabling device which eventually deflated two of the pickup’s tires,” the press release states.
At Bayfield, the pickup, with two deflated tires, exited onto U.S. 160-B and continued eastbound through Bayfield.
“While attempting to turn south on County Road 521 (Buck Highway), the suspect lost control and spun out in the roadway. At that time a CSP patrol car pushed the suspect vehicle and pinned it against a curb,” the release states.
At that point, the suspect exited his truck and ran a short distance before being apprehended by troopers.
Earlier that day, an Archuleta County Sheriff’s deputy had spotted Peterson in another pickup, but that deputy was unable to make contact, said Archuleta County Undersheriff Jim Saunders.
At the time of his apprehension in Bayfield, Peterson was wanted on four outstanding warrants from a variety of agencies, including theft, trespass, and eluding charges from a high-speed pursuit that took place the prior week.
For the Feb. 26 incident, charges include felony eluding, reckless driving, possession of drugs and other traffic infractions.
All incidents remain under investigation.
Peterson is also suspected of leading another trooper on a high-speed chase through a number of Pagosa Springs neighborhoods the prior week.
According to the incident blotter from the CSP, Trooper Scott Fenwick attempted to stop a black 1989 Chevrolet pickup shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 20, on U.S. 160 near Alpha Drive.
Fenwick followed the pickup as it turned onto Pinon Causeway, to Village Drive, then to Davis Cup Drive.
The vehicle accelerated to high speeds, the report notes. In an interview, Cpl. Randy Talbot said the pickup, on average, ran about 45 mph over the posted speed limits.
Fenwick then pursued the pickup down Davis Cup Drive and onto Park Avenue, where the pickup ran off the road.
At that point, the report states that Fenwick recognized the driver as Peterson. Then the suspect freed the pickup, collided with Fenwick’s patrol car and left the scene “at a high rate of speed.”
Fenwick pursued Peterson for approximately 16 miles before terminating the chase on Cloud Cap Avenue, the report indicates.
The report also indicates that use of alcohol and/or drugs is suspected in the incident.
In addition, Maxwell said Peterson has not been eliminated as a suspect in a number of other recent burglaries within Pagosa Springs.
“Thus far, our investigation has not eliminated him,” Maxwell said.