Man takes deal, another arrested in theft of safe near Steamboat

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Travis Browning

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Eric Nichols

— One man has taken a plea deal and another has been arrested in connection with a June 23 burglary in the Dakota Ridge subdivision.

A safe weighing about 300 pounds and containing about $125,000 in jewelry was removed from a home on Aspen Ridge Drive. The Routt Coun­ty Sher­iff’s Office reported Wed­nesday that 34-year-old Travis Brown­ing was arrested in July. He has accepted a plea deal, pleading guilty to attempted second-de­­gree burglary of a dwelling, a Class 4 felony.

Eric Nichols, 45, was arrested in early October and has been charged with theft of $20,000 or more, a Class 3 felony; conspiracy to commit theft, a Class 4 felony; third-degree burglary, a Class 5 felony; accessory to a crime, a Class 5 felony; and criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Nichols is scheduled to appear Jan. 4 in District Court.

Both men were listed as transients between Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek.

At the time of the incident, Investigator Ken Klinger said a caretaker arrived at the home and found that an interior door had been kicked off the hinges and called 911. The caretaker saw that the safe was taken from the house and was on the ground 15 yards away. He noticed about five minutes later that the safe was gone.

Klinger called for backup from Deputy Tommie Belz, and the two searched the area. They found evidence that the burglar or burglars stopped to rest four times while carrying the 300-pound safe down a path toward the road, about 50 yards, where they likely put it in a waiting car. Several construction workers were in the area, but nobody reported seeing the person or people.

There were no signs of forced entry, and the house’s security system had not been triggered. At the time of the incident, Sheriff’s Office officials suggested that the person or people involved had knowledge of the house. Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Mellisa Baumgartner said Wednesday that the men arrested had no connection to the house that the office had been able to confirm.

The Sheriff’s Office reported Wednesday that deputies recovered the safe in a rural part of Grand County and that investigators are following “various leads related to the potential recovery of the jewelry.”

Comments

ftpheide 3 years, 12 months ago

June 23, 2010 a home was broken into. The Caretaker finds the safe outside the home and calls 911. Five minutes later the safe is gone. (all 300 lbs.) Kinger calls for back up! Sometime in July- Travis gets arrested. Sometime in October -Eric gets arrested. December 22nd Grand County deputies find the safe, down in their county.

Only two deputies respond to an active burglary ? This is pitiful. Did the theives drive right past Klinger?

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Tommie Belz 3 years, 12 months ago

Didn't the homeowner throw a party for RCSO, for "Solving" the case? If there is more than one way to skin a cat, there is more than one way to accept gratuity!

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Ken Reed 3 years, 12 months ago

I wonder which one was the brains of the operation.

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ftpheide 3 years, 12 months ago

Klinger is a tatical instructor for the SO? This explains alot. The Swat Teams record is 0-5! If you look at the difference in the charges the two men received you'll be able to figure out who the informant was. AKA "the brains of the operation."

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1999 3 years, 12 months ago

well it seems these two have alot of ambition and plenty of followthru and planning capabilities.

so why not just get real jobs? seriously....what makes these guys steal? scum.

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greenwash 3 years, 12 months ago

I guess you could say they had real jobs....They are called painters....

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Tommie Belz 3 years, 12 months ago

So is it safe to say that Eric most likely carried the safe on his own, he looks like a strappin young fella. I'm pretty sure that was him I saw at the gym!

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ftpheide 3 years, 12 months ago

Painters? So that is how they knew about this house and it's safe. There you go SO spokeswoman. There is your connection to the house.

I can't wait until the New Sheriff takes over and' weeds out" the staff!

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 12 months ago

ftpheide, You are so clever at knowing exactly what happened. Maybe Wiggins will hire you. Or are you like Sherlock Holmes, just too brilliant and unconventional to work for the dept?

Or maybe there is a difference between a speculated connection to the house and one that has been confirmed.

Or that Ken Klinger was not called to a robbery in progress. That wasn't known until the safe was moved again and then back up was called. There are few enough deputies on duty already, how many should show up at what is a routine call on the chance that it is not routine so that back up can already be there and not arrive a few minutes later?

I have no reluctance at pointing out police mistakes, but I don't see mistakes being made that were obvious at the time as being mistakes. Not like the house invasion at Cargo or the bad analysis mj busts in Pburg.

BTW, I think the plea deal is truly an example of the advantage of being arrested first and giving evidence. Presumably, he not only informed on Eric and led police to the safe, but also is saying where the jewelry went.

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bandmama 3 years, 12 months ago

screamer...THANK YOU! My comment more or less stating the same thing was deleted..... Lets see if this one stands.

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ftpheide 3 years, 12 months ago

Scott, Their is a difference between a robbery and a burglary. My comment was about the burglary at a home in Dakota Ridge. Thank you for saying I'm brilliant! A burglary is not a routine call. Maybe it is in Denver but not Steamboat.
When one party to a crime is arrested they aren't automatically guaranteed a plea bargin. Cops like the chatty ones. Those are the ones that get the pleas. Merry Christmas Scott and be kind to disabled senior citizens.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 12 months ago

Hmm, interesting case in that the victim is apparently sufficiently satisfied with the Sheriff's dept to give a party of gratitude, but the bloggers see the deeper conspiracy of it somehow being a payoff for what they say was inept law enforcement.

Merry Christmas Evelyn and be kind to kittens and puppies

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Mike Biggs 3 years, 12 months ago

Officer Klinger has got to be asking himself....What would have Barney Fiff done in this situation ?

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ftpheide 3 years, 12 months ago

Scott Can you prove that the homeowner gave the SO a party and they attended? A good attorney would be able to get Travis and Eric's charges dismissed if this party actually took place! I'm always kind to puppies and kittens. It's just" weenies" I have a problem with!

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 12 months ago

I am just noting that a prior comment by Clare said there was a party given by the homeowners

I am curious why it would matter if the victim threw a party for the sheriff's office that the defendant's lawyers could use that to get the charges thrown out? I understand that charges get thrown out for violating constitutional rights of the accused, but I don't see how a party by the victim would have affected the constitutional rights of the accused. If a party did occur then it might raise questions by other victims of whether the Sheriff's office worked harder on that case than on other cases, but still that doesn't affected the evidence in this case.

And why the personal insults? I may disagree with you, but at least I can present my opinions without including personal insults at those that disagree with me.

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Tommie Belz 3 years, 12 months ago

Scott, If you'll re read my post, it was posed as a question.

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ftpheide 3 years, 12 months ago

No personal insult - just a statement! Ask an Attorney about the Party Conspiracy.

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ftpheide 3 years, 11 months ago

mavis, I hope you like me! If I ever say anything that upsets you- you let me know. I will punish myself !

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ftpheide 3 years, 11 months ago

Mama, I think Mavis got deleated!! She didn't say anything wrong. It's public record. Freedom of speech doesn't apply to everyone!

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nodui 3 years, 11 months ago

Those acorns didnt fall far from the tree....Scum bags better thank their lucky stars that Steamboat is such a libral town. Oxygen robbers!!

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