By Jeff Todd
DENVER (CBS4) – Five alleged leaders of a criminal operation that stole vehicles totaling more than half a million dollars in value are now in police custody.
The Denver District Attorney’s Office announced Monday that a grand jury returned a 99-count indictment against 19 people accused of taking part in the operation.
The five leaders have a felony organized crime charge lodged against them on top of other felonies for motor vehicle theft, burglary, and identity theft.
“It was a pretty large scale criminal operation involving over 90 victims. Much of this activity centered around residential and business complexes around the 16th Street Mall area,” said Ken Lane with the Denver District Attorney’s Office, “They would rapidly go through these garages and check to see if there were any cars unlocked, steal things from those vehicles.”
Jordan Goetsch, 20, Jory Ingram, 21, Michael Rodgers, 25, Noah Ferris, 22, and Pablo Bleacher, 23, are all in police custody and awaiting court dates.
The grand jury’s indictment alleges the quintet orchestrated the theft of vehicles eclipsing $600,000 in total value in less two years.
According to a news release, the operation “obtained the stolen property primarily through burglarizing secured residential parking garages attached to apartment, condominium and business complexes” located in downtown Denver and surrounding neighborhoods. Operatives usually gained access by forcing open lobby doors, activating stolen garage door openers, following building tenants into the garage, or crashing through control arms with stolen vehicles.
“Many people believe, well once they’re in a secure garage they don’t need to lock their vehicle,” Lane said.
Once inside, members of the group would search for unlocked vehicles and raid the interiors of those vehicles for valuables and items of personal identity. If a key to any vehicle was found inside, the car was stolen.
“This process was known and described by enterprise members as ‘car-hopping'” stated the news release.
The Denver District Attorney’s Economic Crime Unit, the Denver Police Department, and the Metro Auto Theft Task Force worked together during the months-long investigation that was presented to the grand jury.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.