JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – An inmate at the Jefferson County Jail will have a longer rap sheet after allegedly stealing a cell phone from another inmate and using it to stream himself through social media this week.
Joseph Thomas Chavez, 22, is accused of stealing another inmate’s smartphone, lighter and cigarettes during the booking process and then doing a Facebook Live from the jail at about 8 p.m. Thursday, according to a press release from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies learned the inmate was streaming from the jail when someone who saw it online anonymously called the jail and reported Chavez.
Inmates are not allowed to have cellphones, cigarettes or lighters in jail – they’re all considered contraband, Jenny Fulton, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, told Denver7.
Fulton said Chavez was transferred from Sterling Correctional Facility to the jail on Thursday afternoon, because he’s scheduled to appear in Jefferson County Court Monday on a criminal trespassing in a motor vehicle charge. Now he faces additional charges of theft and introduction of contraband in the jail.
Chavez had been stripped-search during the booking process, but he was somehow able to reach into another inmate’s property bag, and steal the smartphone, cigarettes and the lighter, Fulton said. Inmates’ personal belongings are stored in the property bags until they’re released from jail.
“We are reviewing our policies and procedures to see how this happened and how we can prevent it from happening in the future,” Fulton said.
She added that no sheriff’s employees have been accused or suspected of wrong-doing in this case.
Fulton noted that is if someone being booked has a potential weapon, a pocketknife, for example, that’s stored separately in a secured vault.
Court records show Chavez is serving time in state prison for five convictions, three in Jefferson County and two in Denver: In Jefferson County, the suspect is serving time for aggravated motor vehicle theft, felony theft, ID theft for financial gain. In Denver, he's been convicted of felony attempted escape and felony criminal mischief – damage of property damage/vandalism valued at $1,000 to $5,000.