COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4)– A handful of looting suspects have been arrested in the evacuation areas of Colorado Springs and surrounding subdivisions while the Waldo Canyon Fire burns just miles away.
A police officer caught people breaking into homes Thursday morning in the Rockrimmon area, which is one of the evacuated neighborhoods.
The looting suspects apparently violated the barricades to get into the evacuated areas.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and Monument Police Department arrested a pair of alleged burglary suspects.
The pair was accused of breaking into a home in the area of the Waldo Canyon Fire evacuation zone.
CBI agents arrested Belinda Yates and Shane Garrett in connection with the burglary of a home in a Colorado Springs subdivision that had been evacuated. Yates, 38, and Garrett, 36, were also in possession of methamphetamine at the time they were arrested.
The suspects are facing a myriad of charges including suspicion of second degree burglary, possession of a controlled substance, theft, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and theft by receiving. They are set to appear in court Friday for an advisement hearing.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey stated he fully supports the recovery of stolen property and the arrests of alleged offenders who would commit crimes against evacuated residents.
“It’s difficult to believe, but disaster situations prompt some would-be criminals to take advantage of the heartbreak facing residents forced to evacuate their homes,” said CBI Director Ron Sloan. “Law enforcement takes this seriously and will work together to identify and arrest these individuals.”
Officers said they will increase patrols in the evacuated areas to keep looters out and so homeowners can feel safe.
The Waldo Canyon Fire was listed at 18,500 acres Thursday and was about 10 percent contained. Approximately 32,000 people remain evacuated. The Red Cross has five different shelters set up. (Full Story)
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said authorities are contacting and working with homeowners who have lost homes. He said Thursday morning that “hundreds” of homes of burned but he said they likely won’t have an estimate on an exact number until later in the day.
An undetermined number of homes in the Mountain Shadows area have already burned, and smoke continues to “kick up” Thursday in the Blodgett Peak Open Space to the west of those homes.
The fire started on June 23 in the Pike National Forest and tripled in size on Tuesday in extreme heat and heavy winds. So far there’s no word on how the fire started, but the FBI is involved in the investigation.
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