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Authorities seek suspects in Black Forest burglaries

7 break-ins reported since fire began June 11

Black Forest Burglary Suspects Sought

BLACK FOREST, Colo. - El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa renewed his determination to catch the person or person committing burglaries in the Black Forest fire zone.

Addressing the topic during his daily media briefing on Wednesday, Maketa called the burglaries "disgusting" and said he will renew efforts to find whoever is involved.

Maketa declined to reveal specifics on the seven burglaries, except to say he believes they're being committed by one or two people, possibly young adults.

"It's nothing like an organized crime ring," he said.  "We're not seeing that.  But we learned lessons with what took place with the Waldo Canyon Fire.  We're trying to head off some of those problems and take different approaches."

Maketa said the unidentified thieves apparently know the area well and are able to evade the many patrols and roadblocks in place.  He said finding a suspect will become more difficult as evacuees begin returning.

"There's people driving, walking, on horseback and on ATVs," he said.  That's a challenge."

Maketa described the number of break-ins as small.  However, he's concerned enough about the situation to request that the Colorado National Guard remain on duty in the area for an extended period.

"We couldn't man all the patrols and roadblocks without them," Maketa said.

District Attorney Dan May said last week he'd seek to double the penalty for anyone convicted of a burglary in the fire zone.

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