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Rash of overnight auto burglaries hits Colorado Springs neighborhood

As many as 20 break-ins reported early Tuesday

Nearly 20 vehicles burglarized overnight in NE Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Neighbors in the Stetson Hills area of northeast Colorado Springs recently started a neighborhood watch group, but that didn't deter thieves who targeted the area early Tuesday morning.

Several neighbors contacted KRDO NewsChannel 13 to report that between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., at least 16 vehicles, and possibly as many as 20, were burglarized by three people wearing hoods and backpacks.

Police said the victims made it easy for the thieves, however, by leaving the doors unlocked.  A stolen pickup truck even had the keys inside.

"We're not scared, we're angry," said Maria Stafford, a neighbor.  "I just don't understand why they're doing this.  It's kids.  Where are their parents?  I hate to blame parents because they're not always to blame.  But we need to find out who these kids are.  They need to be in the house at 1:30 in the morning."

Video from several neighborhood surveillance cameras shows the thieves walking across lawns, sidewalks and driveways, finding several doors locked but ransacking a vehicle found unlocked.

In some instances, the thieves took medications and even golf clubs from the vehicles, but in other instances, left valuable items behind.

"My iPod was in there and they left my Taser on the front seat," said Kelley, a victim.  "Waking up and knowing that your kids' bedroom is above where someone went through your vehicle, doesn't feel good. We moved here because we thought we were getting away from this kind of crime."

Kelley is one of several neighbors who declined to be identified or give their last names out of fear of reprisals from the thieves.

"It might even be someone in the neighborhood, someone we knew," Stafford said. 

Neighbors began noticing the burglaries as they woke up and prepared for work Tuesday.  Word quickly spread via phone calls, online messages, texts and smartphone apps.

Police dusted for fingerprints and gathered other evidence, while neighbors submitted their surveillance videos.

There will be more patrols in the neighborhood, police said.

The area of the break-ins is bordered by Stetson Hills, Dublin and Tutt Boulevards, and Annalee Way, in what's known as the Ridgeview subdivision.

We'll all be more cautious now," Kelley said.  "I went to the grocery store late last night and was in a hurry.  I probably forgot to lock my car and take my valuables with me.  I won't let that happen again."

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