BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Investigators who were trying to solve a series of crimes in Boulder County kept running across unicorn figurines and pictures of unicorns. They say those small discoveries as they were recovering stolen property and executing search warrants, helped them tie the crimes together and identify three suspects in their case.

An example of one of the unicorn figurines that was found during the investigation. (credit: Boulder County)

The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office says Shane Phillips, Marie Roman, Adrian Quintana had an “affection for unicorns” and left clues as they stole cars and swiped packages from homes in the county. So they dubbed their investigation Operation Unicorn.

Shane Phillips (credit: Boulder County)

Marie Roman (credit: Boulder County)

Adrian Quintana (credit: Boulder County)

The crimes took place in Boulder, Lyons and Longmont, and also included vehicle trespasses. They started happening in September and continued through February. It’s estimated that they stole items that added up to $115,000 in value during that time.

Phillips, 21, and Roman, 36, have been arrested and as of Thursday Quintana, 44, was still at large. There’s a warrant out for his arrest and anyone who spots him is asked to call 911.

As for the discovery of the unicorn books, drawings and figures in the stolen cars and other places, sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Haverfeld said “We can’t speak to what their intent was, whether they left them as calling cards or whether we just happened to find them but they didn’t intend for us to find them.”

The three suspects face a total of 53 different criminal charges in Boulder County after striking at what is believed to be 46 different locations. They may also be tied to crimes that took place outside county limits.

Jesse Sarles