FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – After nearly two months of living out of his truck, sometimes in motels, a Fort Collins man was given his stolen trailer back on Wednesday.
The trailer was located, after being stolen in April, by an anonymous CBS4 viewer.
Larimer County Sheriff deputies responded to a home near Laporte and found the trailer after CBS4 reporter Dillon Thomas shared the anonymous tip with their dispatch.
Shortly after the tip was shared with law enforcement, Fort Collins Police called owner Chris Trimble with an update to their case.
“I was hoping, and praying that it would return,” Trimble said.
The officer on the phone said the trailer was located and would be towed back to Fort Collins.
“I asked him the condition of it, and he said his best description was ‘disheveled,’” Trimble said of talking with a deputy. “I would say that is accurate.”
When Trimble arrived to retrieve his home, he was disheartened to see its condition.
“I just paid $450 to get my stolen camper back,” Trimble said. “The camper is trashed.”
Drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine, and marijuana were found inside the trailer by law enforcement.
The suspect was already in Larimer County Jail when the trailer was located on unrelated charges. Fort Collins Police Services spokesperson Kate Kimble told CBS4 that the man’s family was under the impression he purchased the camper.
When CBS4 first shared the story in April, Trimble asked viewers to look for the camper, which had distinct eagle stickers on the outside. He paid $15,000 for the trailer shortly before it was stolen, and didn’t have insurance on it at the time of the theft.
“Because of the news story, (the thieves) ground (the stickers) off so it wouldn’t be identified,” Trimble said.
The exterior of the trailer, on all four sides, was heavily damaged with scrape marks from an apparent sander.
A window was smashed out on one side, and another was damaged near the doors. Locks on the doors no longer worked with the keys Trimble had, due to apparent tampering.
“(Before being stolen,) it was in absolutely mint condition,” Trimble said. “It is (now) trashed.”
While surveying the master bedroom for the first time since getting the trailer back, Trimble questioned how anyone could live in the trailer in its condition. The bathtub was overflowing with old water, with supplies floating in it. Molding food was left on the table, with flies coming in and out of the peanut butter jar. A scooter, clothing, dishes, and other items not belonging to Trimble were scattered throughout.
“I can’t (clean) this by myself,” Trimble said. “Every square inch of the inside of that camper is going to need to be cleaned. I will accept help from anyone willing to give it.”
Police told CBS4 further questioning would need to take place, before they could determine exactly how the trailer ended up on the suspect’s property.
Kimble wished not to identify the suspect, in hope of not influencing the court proceedings needed for the suspect’s other unrelated charges.
Trimble had a short message for the suspect who left him homeless for months.
“Judging by the inside of that camper, you definitely need some help,” Trimble said. “You’ve screwed up my life horribly. It has been very painful.”
Trimble took the trailer away from the tow yard, with hope of finding someone in the public who could help him restore it to living condition.
In the meantime, he wanted to thank everyone involved for getting the trailer back, even if it needed a lot of work.
“Thank you, Dillon. To CBS Denver 4 news, I thank you very much for getting my camper back,” Trimble said. “I can’t say it enough. Thank you to whoever had the courage to call (in the tip to CBS4.)”
Trimble said, once the trailer is restored, he wanted to move forward with his original dream of taking it to Fremont County to live in. From there, he planned to live in the trailer while build a new home.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.