Two men were arrested Sunday for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of electronics and cash from a home and several vehicles in Snowmass Village.
Kelsey Dean Vasten, 21, and Maxwell Ryan Stephenson, also 21, both of Snowmass Village, were advised Monday on felony charges of burglary, criminal trespass and theft. They are also charged with two lesser theft counts.
And an Aspen woman faces a misdemeanor theft count for stealing from a baby-sitting client, who also was allegedly victimized by Vasten and Stephenson. The incidents are apparently unrelated.
The arrest warrants for the men, written by village police officer Tom Rockwell, describe a hectic investigation that began on Friday around 6:45 a.m.
A resident of Lower Woodbridge Road called police to report that he had scuffled with a man he had caught breaking into his car.
The resident also said he knew the man, describing him as “Max from Texas,” and said he lived at the Snowmass Club Commons, an affordable housing complex, Rockwell wrote.
“The person was wearing a black hoodie, black beanie and black shirt,” the warrant says, citing the resident’s description. “He had a round face, round chin, googlie eyes and short hair.”
Rockwell wrote that within an hour of responding to the first call, “I received five other calls of cars, parked along Upper Woodbridge Road and Lower Woodbridge Road, being opened and valuables taken ...”
One resident reported that a $200 TV was stolen from her car, the warrant says.
The resident who reported fighting with Stephenson later found the defendant’s phone in his car.
Police believe Stephenson was using it as a flashlight and dropped it when the resident confronted him, said Art Smythe, Snowmass Village police chief.
The Snowmass Commons housing manager provided Rockwell with the name of Stephenson, who is originally from Plano, Texas.
“I recognized Stephenson from him being involved in several theft calls in the village earlier in the year,” Rockwell wrote.
Police had been called to Stephenson’s apartment at the Club Commons on at least three occasions because his roommates had reported items missing, Smythe said.
Stephenson was a suspect but was never charged with a crime.
In an interview later Friday morning with Rockwell in his apartment, Stephenson said he did not know why the officer was there, the warrant says.
“Stephenson showed me his room and his car,” and none of the missing items were there, Rockwell wrote.
The housing manager provided video footage that allegedly showed Vasten and Stephenson, dressed in black, leaving the complex between 3:30 and 3:50 a.m. Friday.
At 1:15 p.m., another Woodbridge resident told police he had several things taken after someone broke in through a window. Among the items stolen were a laptop valued at $1,200, a $1,000 50-inch flat screen TV and a “Jerome Bake glass bong” valued at $500, the warrant says.
Around 3:30 p.m., police went to Vasten’s apartment. He wasn’t there, but a roommate, in response to an officer’s question about electronics in the residence, said that “there’s a television ... I don’t know where that came from,” Rockwell wrote.
The housing manager around this time called police again to report that video surveillance showed Vasten walking in with a flat-screen TV.
About two hours later, Laurie Smith, an animal control officer with the town, radioed that she saw a man with no shirt and shoes hiding in bushes near the housing complex.
Police stopped Vasten as he was walking back to the complex, the warrant says.
He allegedly admitted to breaking into the home and taking the 50-inch TV, the bong, a bag of marijuana and other items.
But he said he found the other TV, which was allegedly taken from the woman’s car, “in the planter in the center” of the complex’s turnaround area, the warrant says. He also denied breaking into any vehicles.
Police say they recovered from either Vasten’s apartment or car both TVs, an iPad Mini, the bong, five models of iPods and other items.
Stephenson allegedly admitted to helping Vasten steal the items from the home and that he broke into the car of the resident who caught him.
On Monday, prosecutor Andrea Bryan said that Vasten has a pending disorderly conduct charge, though Vasten said it’s been dismissed.
Vasten has little in the way of a criminal history, but Bryan asked for a $7,000 bond, telling Judge Gail Nichols of Pitkin County District Court that the amount was warranted because of the crimes’ severity.
Vasten said he grew up in the Aspen area and now works as a ranch hand on his grandparents’ property in the Ruedi Reservoir area.
Nichols set bond at $5,000 for Vasten and $7,000 for Stephenson, who said he’s lived in the valley for a year. He said he’s unemployed but was hoping to work again for the Aspen Skiing Co. Bryan said his record shows a felony drug conviction from out of state, but Nichols noted that SkiCo doesn’t hire people with a felony conviction on their record.
A day before the men were arrested, an Aspen woman was arrested for misdemeanor theft.
Heather Kae Van Pelt, 27, is accused of stealing $800 and 10 to 13 painkillers from the house where she was baby-sitting a couple’s 4-year-old.
The female resident, who would tell police Friday that $40 worth of TV converter cables were stolen from her vehicle — a crime that Vasten and Stephenson allegedly committed — told police that she hired Van Pelt in late May as a sitter.
Accused of the theft by the woman, Van Pelt returned the cash, but said she didn’t know where the pills were, a police report says. It’s unclear why such a length of time passed between her alleged crime and when she was arrested.
Smythe said he was unaware of any connection between Van Pelt and the men accused of burglary.
“I think it’s just bad luck” for the alleged victim in both crimes, he said.