A Utah man says he’s frustrated that Thornton Police did nothing to secure his stolen car once a family member spotted it Monday night.
Brett Aldridge, who was home visiting family for Christmas, said they went bowling Saturday night, at the AMF Northglenn Lanes at 104th and Bannock.
“Two people, a guy and a girl, ended up going through my bowling bag and found my car keys,” he said. “They went out into the parking lot and pushed the (key fob) button until the lights flashed.”
Aldridge said once they found his car, a 2006 Acura TL, it was gone in a flash.
“We reported it stolen,” he told Denver7. “Northglenn Police came and we were able to watch (security) video of all this.”
The victim snapped some still photos of the suspects shown on the security video and posted them on social media.
“A manager at Best Buy ended up recognizing them when they came into his store Monday afternoon,” Aldridge said, “because he’d seen the Facebook posts.”
He said the manager called police and “they arrested the two people who took my car.”
Northglenn Police told Denver7 that the woman, Danova Pscholka, was taken into custody for aggravated motor vehicle theft and was released pending charges. A department spokeswoman said the associated male was arrested on a separate case on separate charges. She declined to release his name.
According to Aldridge, the suspects told police they had ditched the car on Federal Boulevard.
Members of the Aldridge family then fanned out in Northglenn and Thornton and began searching parking lots.
“By some miracle, my fiancé, David, found somebody driving it on 104th Avenue,” said Kellie Aldridge, the victim’s sister. “He followed them into the Kmart parking lot.”
Kellie Aldridge told Denver7 that the man driving her brother’s car dropped a female off at the front door, went to park the car and then walked into the store himself.”
She said her fiancé called police and then called her.
She said police parked around the corner of the store and that she parked right next to her brother’s car.
“The suspects came out,” she said. “The one driving looked me straight in the eyes, unlocked the car and got in.”
Kellie Aldridge said she was waiting to see what the police were going to do, when the suspect backed out and went around the parking lot.
“That’s when the police pulled forward with their lights on,” she said, “and (the suspects) took off.”
“I was just so upset and frustrated because I didn’t understand why police weren’t standing right there to cuff him, with keys in hand,” Kellie Aldridge said. “I don’t understand their process.”
Thornton Police Sgt. Matt Cabot told Denver7 that the officer “acted in good faith.”
“He was doing surveillance,” Cabot said, “and had called the store’s loss prevention department to see if the suspects were still inside.”
Cabot said the officer spotted a male suspect exiting the store, but didn’t see the female, so he waited.
When he determined that the female wasn’t coming out he drove up to the car, which was leaving.
The driver apparently saw the officer and sped off.
“He was driving recklessly,” Cabot said, “and nearly caused some accidents, so the supervisor terminated the pursuit.”
When asked why the officer didn’t try to secure the car, Cabot said he wanted to apprehend the suspect.
When asked if police might revisit that policy, Cabot said, “We give officers discretion. We want to be able to hold them (suspects) accountable and determine if they are part of a larger theft ring.”
That doesn’t sit well with the Aldridge family.
“We feel like we’re back to square one,” Kellie Aldridge said. “We did all the legwork. We posted the pictures on social media, we helped find the original suspects and we found the car… now we don’t know where the car is and we don’t know who has it.”
“The only thing we asked them to do,” Brett Aldridge said, “is impound it and they couldn’t do that simple task. It’s frustrating.”