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Pueblo theft victim believes police approach makes community a target for criminals

Posted at 7:19 PM, Dec 10, 2018

PUEBLO – Theft victims in Pueblo have come to News 5 frustrated by the way they say the police are handling their case.  Crystal LaDuke said she’s had a number of frustrating conversations with people at the department since parents trailer was stolen last Wednesday.

She shared surveillance video of the theft which shows the thieves hooking up the trailer and driving away in about two minutes despite the trailer locks her father had installed. Officers later found the trailer on the East Side and called her dad on Wednesday night.

“The police called him, he was asleep, they told him to come and get his trailer,” LaDuke said.

There were two ATV’s, a toolbox and other items on the trailer that were all gone when he picked it up. Crystal said her dad didn’t have the registration information with him at the time for the two ATVs.  So, he went to the department the next day to follow up.

The clerks twice refused to take the information, saying that her dad needed to give the Vehicle Identification Numbers to an officer. An officer later showed up at their house to take the updated report.  However, Crystal said the VIN numbers didn’t get updated in police computers until Saturday.

So, she called the department to complain and said she spoke with a woman in the investigations unit.

“And she said well, we don’t do anything if they don’t have, if you don’t have names, you don’t have suspect information, license plate information, she goes we don’t do anything with it, it doesn’t go anywhere, it doesn’t get assigned usually,” Crystal said.

“The last time I knew, the suspects didn’t go ‘here’s my ID, and here’s my driver’s license and here’s where I live!”

She escalated her complaint further, asking to speak with a sergeant. Crystal said she’s left three voice messages for that sergeant but still hasn’t heard back.  She believes the department’s approach to property crimes makes the community a target for criminals.

“It sends a big message to them, hey you want to break the law, go to Pueblo, you’re not going to get caught,” she said. “They’re not going to go after you, and that’s why it’s so bad down here.”

Crystal LaDuke, left, speaks with News 5 reporter Andy Koen about her frustrations with the Pueblo Police Department’s investigation into her parent’s trailer theft.

Property crimes are reported more frequently in Pueblo than in other cities around the state. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics, there were 6,838 total property crime reports in Pueblo 2017, an 8 percent decrease compared to 2016.  However, it’s still a high number for a community of this size.

The average number of property crimes reported per 100,000 residents here is 6,167. In Denver, that average is 3,667 reports per 100,000 residents and 3,217 reports in Colorado Springs.

News 5 contacted Sergeant Franklyn Ortega, the department’s Public Information Officer, to share the information that Crystal had given us. He said detectives were aware of the case and had seen surveillance video of the theft. However, the video was too grainy to make a positive identification of the suspects.

Ortega assured us that the department is taking the case and others like it very seriously. LaDuke said she has since contacted other law enforcement agencies to seek help in recovering the stolen ATVs. News 5 attempted to connect Ortega with LaDuke to work through the other concerns she had.