Man takes deal, another arrested in theft of safe near Steamboat
December 22, 2010
Steamboat Springs — 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.
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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."