Highlands Ranch, CO

Crimes of opportunity increase in Highlands Ranch

Heather Willard

Images of suspected thieves and a getaway vehicle in Highlands Ranch and Parker.DCSO Twitter

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver

(Highlands Ranch, Colo.) Crime is on the rise in Highlands Ranch, especially crimes of opportunity, according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. The office reported total crime in the area increased by 7%, according to the county’s 2021 Statistics Summary.

One trend that emerged in 2021 and has continued into 2022 is an increase of robberies and personal property thefts. Deputies worked on 31 theft reports from the Highlands Ranch area (up from 21 in 2020) and 26 robbery reports (up from 11 in 2020).

Burglaries were also up in 2021, with 122 residential burglaries reported (85 in 2020). Non-residential burglaries fell by 15% from 105 reports in 2020 to 89 in 2021. Burglaries are unlawful entrance into a building or vehicle with the intent to steal, while robberies are attempts to take valuables through force or threat.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Blanchard said the Highlands Ranch area is experiencing a wave of robberies. He said groups of thieves have begun roaming neighborhoods because most residents don’t take adequate security measures.

As the area’s population increases, that naturally brings a rise in crime, Blanchard explained.

Blanchard also attributed the crime rate to the Douglas County jail’s failure to hold criminals for longer than a day.

“If someone commits a crime, they get arrested and go to jail, and they’re out the next morning on a signature holding, and they’re out the next day doing the crime again,” he said. “We have caught several offenders, and they just keep getting personal recognizance bonds as long as they keep showing up to court when they’re told to and everything, so there’s no real consequences. If there’s no consequences, why would they stop?”

He said the sheriff’s office needs help from DougCo residents, as deputies cannot be everywhere — and even if they are, criminals are wise enough to use lookouts and getaway vehicles to stay away from patrols. Blanchard asked residents to be diligent in protecting their property by locking doors, adding additional barriers like a charlie bar to sliding doors or windows at ground level, and keeping an eye on neighbors’ properties when home.

“Statistically speaking, when it comes to the theft from cars, for example, these aren’t master thieves that coming and doing ‘Gone in 60 seconds’ type stuff,” Blanchard said. “They are checking the car doors, and if it’s unlocked, they open it, maybe find a purse on the front seat, then the car keys are in the purse and they drive away.”

Criminals have also developed simple, new schemes to find targets. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office recently noted a group is committing daytime burglaries by posing as workers wearing reflective safety vests. The group was discovered in the 3300 block of Sturbridge Drive, Highlands Ranch, and in the 14000 block of Lexington Drive, Parker.

“The suspects attempt to contact the homeowners by knocking on the front door,” DCSO warned in a press release. “When no one answers the door, they go into the backyard and force entry into the home.”

This group of thieves has been identified as Hispanic males in their 20s to 30s, driving a newer, white Dodge Caravan and mid-2000s Kia Sedona, with unknown plates. Share information about this group with Detective Eric Oppeau at eoppeau@dcsheriff.net or the DCSO Major Crime Tip Line at 303-660-7579.

Additionally, anyone who sees suspicious activity is encouraged to notify the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Blanchard recommends calling the non-emergency line (303-660-7505) if law enforcement is not needed on-scene immediately and calling 9-1-1 for emergency calls.

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Public safety reporter in DougCo, Denver metro. Previously: Pueblo Chieftain public safety reporter, Athens Messenger associate editor. Caffeine fiend, cat mom and lover of all things spooky.

Broomfield, CO

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