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Burglar vacations in local homes

Staff Writer

An Illinois man is currently in jail after reportedly admitting to authorities that he broke into and stayed at several houses located east of Pagosa Springs.

Preston Philippe, 28, of Duquoin, Ill., is being held on a $10,000 bond in the Archuleta County Detention Center.

According to Det. Brandon Bishop with the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office, Philippe was apprehended by ACSO personnel after a burglary was reported at the Saddleback Ranch, located at 401 Forest Service Road 667.

Bishop said the reporting party for the incident, a caretaker of the ranch, indicated he  noticed a broken window and that the door was locked and could not be opened, as if it was blocked by furniture.

After calling in the incident, the reporting party allegedly remained a distance from the house until deputies arrived, but saw the suspect flee from the back of the house.

Responding deputies located the suspect, Philippe, hiding in a nearby field. Bishop said he was wearing clothes taken from the home.

Upon locating the suspect, Bishop said Philippe admitted to deputy John Martin that he had stayed in the home at the Saddleback Ranch for one day and night.

Bishop indicated that evidence at the home indicated a longer stay, and that a window in the back of the house had been used to gain entry into the residence.

Then, in interviews with ACSO personnel, Bishop reported that Philippe admitted to cooking meals and watching TV at the residence, as well as to having entered and stayed in several other houses.

One of the other houses, Bishop said, was reported to have been burglarized two days prior, on April 27.

According to Bishop, Philippe said that he was walking from Illinois to California.

En route, Philippe reportedly stopped at two different cabins, located at 8901 A and 8901 B U.S. 160, for four days, Bishop said.

Following four days, Bishop said Philippe used a footbridge to cross the San Juan River, going to 680 Wolf Creek Place, where he gained entry to the residence through a back door.

Bishop indicated that the suspect confessed to staying at 680 Wolf Creek Place for seven days before being scared off by cleaning personnel who showed up at the house.

While at that house, Bishop said the suspect did  laundry and rode a four-wheeler around the driveway.

Upon leaving that house, Bishop said Philippe walked one mile east to the house at the Saddleback Ranch, where he was seen by the ranch’s caretakers.

Other than the clothes the suspect was wearing when caught, Bishop said it was not apparent that anything  was stolen from any of the houses.

“We lucked out that we caught him and got him to confess to all four,” Bishop said.

In investigating the matter, Bishop said the ACSO is seeking infomation about any other burglaries that might have occurred recently in the area east of San Juan River Village, as well as investigating if other burglaries committed between Illinois and Colorado are related.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Archuleta County Crime Stoppers by calling 264-2133, visiting www.pagosacrime.com, or by texting “ACCST” plus a message to 274637 (CRIMES).

randi@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on May 9, 2013.