Thieves break into Denver storage unit, steal power tools, livelihood of local construction worker

Entry gained through drywall of adjacent unit

DENVER - When Stephen Watson unlocked the garage door to his storage unit in southwest Denver, he could only lift the door open about a foot.

He couldn't understand why many of his belongings were leaning against the door.

"I had to crawl under the door and move stuff away so I could open it all the way," he said.

That's when he learned that someone had been inside the unit.

"They just literally dumped everything upside down," Watson said. "I crawled up in there and started looking, and that's when I realized that a wall stud was missing."

Watson said the thieves gained entry into his unit via the one next door.

"They removed the drywall," he said, "then came inside."

The construction worker said he notified the manager and called police.

Then he began to take inventory of the items inside.

Watson told 7NEWS that he put his furniture and household items along with his power tools and tools of the construction trade in storage, when he moved in with his girlfriend.  He said the thieves left the household items but stole his tools.

"It's affecting my livelihood," he said. "Not only do I not have a miter saw to cut miters or double miters, I don't have the money to go buy a hand saw to do it the old-fashioned way."

Watson said he's missing several saws, miter saws, nailers and other tools acquired over the last 30 years.

"It really hurts because those are expensive items," he said.

When police executed a search warrant in the adjacent unit, they recovered more than 96 items, not all of them Watson's.

"There were laptops, someone else's compressor, and several garage door openers," he said. "We saw a bag with car keys like from a dealer.  They had fobs and little tags on them."

When asked if he thought the thieves were also in the construction business, Watson said, "I think they're druggies, because (police) found too much of a variety of stuff in there."

Police contacted the woman whose name was listed on the lease agreement for the adjacent unit.

She told investigators she wasn't leasing the unit, but agreed to come and talk to them.

Once she got there, the manager realized that the woman wasn't the same one that had come in to sign the lease.

Police showed the woman a copy of the driver's license left in the rental agreement.

The woman said that was her old driver's license, which was stolen in 2007.  She said she had been using a new one.

Police have arrested two people in connection with the thefts, 35-year-old Noah Graf and 29-year-old Jodie Howard.

There may be more arrests.

Watson said security video shows five people entering the property.

"One of the drivers came in and pulled into the gate at an angle so the others could come in," he said.

Police say the case is still under investigation.

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