Police lock down apartment complex, Vantage Point High School in search of auto thief

Investigators: Rash of auto thefts in area

NORTHGLENN, Colo. - Police officers from two jurisdictions converged on an apartment complex in Northglenn Wednesday morning, locked it down and then went building-to-building in search of an auto thief.

“There has been a rash of stolen vehicles in this area,” said Northglenn Police Sgt. Ian Lopez. “So we were doing our best to apprehend this suspect.”

Lopez said police don’t know yet if the thefts are related, nor how many people are involved.

Investigators say Thornton police spotted a pickup truck that had been reported stolen in Denver being driven in the northbound lanes of I-25 near 88th Avenue around 8:08 a.m.

“It’s a white Chevy Silverado, 2010 and it’s going 80 to 90 miles per hour,” the dispatcher said.

Police lost track of the Chevy in morning rush hour traffic.

OnStar activated the flashing lights and the driver dumped the vehicle near West 106th Avenue and Melody Drive, but not before witnesses got a look at him.

“I saw a white Chevy truck drive extremely fast into the parking lot behind Firestone,” said Rick George, a technician at Jim Paris Tire Factory. “The lights were flashing.”

George told 7NEWS that a white male with a buzz cut walked out of the lot within moments.

“He just wandered off like he didn’t do anything,” George said.

The driver walked across the street into an adjacent apartment complex.

Police set up a perimeter around the complex and brought in a K-9 unit, but the thief had already gotten away.  

When asked if the thief had experience, Sgt. Ron Haralson said, “It’s possible.”

He noted the speed with which the driver dumped the vehicle and said “he also took off his shirt during the search.”

Vantage Point High School in Northglenn was placed on "lockout" status during the search, meaning no one was allowed to go in and out of the school buildings, but classes continued as normal.

A 7NEWS viewer who lives at The Heights on Huron said residents there were told to stay inside while police searched apartment to apartment with dogs.

The search was called off after about 90 minutes. No one was arrested.

Police say thieves steal cars for a variety of reasons.  Among them: joyriding, free transportation, for use in committing other crimes and to part them out.

Haralson said it’s too early to know why this pickup was stolen.

It’s not the only pickup taken.

Thornton Police spokesman Matt Barnes said another pickup stolen recently in Denver was recovered in front of a house near 117th Avenue and Madison Street.

He said investigators don’t know if thieves are targeting pickups or if the most recent examples are just a coincidence.

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