Police pursuit of two women leads to statewide identity theft probe
Parker police are investigating an identity theft case that began with the Thelma & Louise-style pursuit of two female suspects.
The incident began around 6 a.m., Jan. 18, with an alert to be on the lookout for a Dodge truck stolen out of Castle Rock, said Parker Detective Penny VanDenBerg. Within minutes of the BOLO alert, officers spotted the Dodge being tailed by a Ford Expedition and launched a chase near Crowfoot Valley and Stroh roads.
Officers called off the pursuit when the Ford crashed into an unattended parked car near Main Street and Dransfeldt. The driver of the Ford, Amber Garcia, 22, of Denver, attempted to escape on foot and was apprehended by police. Investigators later found the Ford was reported stolen out of Commerce City.
The unidentified woman who was driving the Dodge eluded capture, VanDenBerg said. Aurora police found the Dodge about two-and-a-half hours later, abandoned in Aurora.
A search warrant for the Ford disclosed thousands of pieces of mail and financial documents, credit card information and prescription medications strewn on the floorboards, backseat and in backpacks.
Investigators also found vehicle registrations and documents that indicated the suspects broke into cars throughout the metro area, VanDenBerg said.
Personal information recovered points to victims from Castle Rock, Denver, Westminster, Aurora, Evans, Alamosa, Greeley, Colorado Springs and Villa Grove, VanDenBerg said.
Police also found handwritten notes with credit card information for individuals from Kansas, Illinois and Iowa, she said. The alleged identity theft ring could continue to grow as investigators sift through thousands of documents, VanDenBerg said.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said. “Unfortunately we deal with identity theft more frequently than not. But something that starts out with stolen vehicles and turns out to be this, there’s definitely more out there that we need to investigate.”
VanDenBerg contacted individuals whose prescription medications were recovered and those who appear to be missing a substantial amount of mail. The investigation indicates the prescription medications were sent by mail, VanDenBerg said.
The mail from Castle Rock was for residences on Wolfensberger Road and in The Meadows on Soaring Eagle Lane, Kellwood Drive, Faver Drive, Foothills Drive, Scarlet Oak Court and Broadview Place, VanDenBerg said.
In Denver, mail was recovered for residences on Zuni, Halifax Court, Flamingo Way and King Street, she said.
Garcia is in custody facing charges of felony charges of aggravated motor vehicle theft, theft by receiving, vehicular eluding and conspiracy. Misdemeanor charges include reckless endangerment, reckless driving, obstructing a peace officer, striking an unattended vehicle and failure to report an accident. As of Feb. 1 she remained in custody in the Douglas County detention facility on $11,500 bond, said Cocha Heyden, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.
Authorities continue to search for the second suspect, VanDenBerg said.
“We probably have to get in touch with at least 50 potential victims,” she said. “We are just in the beginning stages of the investigation, there could definitely be more. The next step will be meeting with the U.S. postal inspector. The (alleged) mail theft makes this case a federal offense.”
Anyone with information that could assist in the investigation can call VanDenBerg at 303-805-6560 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.