Five indicted in Front Range auto theft and burglary crime ring

Heather Willard
(From left) Craig Keltner, Andrea Wettig and Justin Jameson, are serving prison sentences connected to the pattern of racketeering.Photo byColorado Department of Corrections

Heather Willard / NewsBreak Denver / Jan. 11, 2023

(Douglas County, Colo.) The statewide grand jury returned a 90-count indictment charging five people in an auto theft and burglary crime ring that spanned Denver, Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson, Clear Creek and Weld counties between December 2019 and March 2021.

Nathaniel Tsosie, Craig Keltner, Justin Jameson, Andrea Wettig and Dustin James are accused of working together — and with others — to steal motor vehicles and burglarize storage units for their contents, including personal identifying and financial information.

According to the grand jury indictment, the group used stolen identities to test drive vehicles at car dealerships and never returned the vehicles. The group also allegedly used the stolen identities to open accounts at storage unit facilities, then used the provided access codes to enter the facilities and burglarize units.

In total, investigators recovered 22 cars from dealerships and one privately owned vehicle valued at approximately $836,000. They also recovered nearly $109,000 in stolen property from storage units and stolen checks.

Investigators recovered stolen property, stolen or fake identities, and stolen firearms from the stolen vehicles and storage units associated with the enterprise. Investigators allege the thieves sometimes pawned the stolen property using fake identities.

According to the indictment, one of the businesses targeted by the group was Sterling Auto Sales, 2128 North U.S. 83, in unincorporated Douglas County. Prosecutors allege that on Feb. 26, 2021, a male customer who identified himself as “Jakob” asked to test drive a white 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee and failed to return the vehicle.

Jakob Holtzmann was an alias used by Craig Keltner in multiple thefts conducted in similar ways, prosecutors allege.

Using this identity, Keltner also allegedly test-drove a white 2020 Dodge 2500 Power Wagon truck from Clear Shift Auto, Highlands Ranch, on March 4, 2021. Prosecutors also allege he arrived at the Highlands Ranch dealership in a white Jeep Grand Cherokee matching the one stolen from Sterling Auto Sales. The identity was also used at numerous other dealerships in several counties.

Other members of the enterprise are alleged to have committed similarly fraudulent schemes.

Motor vehicle theft is increasingly committed in conjunction with other crimes, according to Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. Local law enforcement, including the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, reported a sharp increase in auto thefts and related crime, such as identity and personal property theft.

“It is critical that law enforcement work collaboratively to address the high number of auto thefts in our state and use all the tools available to do so,” said Weiser. “We in the Attorney General’s Office are committed to doing our part and will do everything we can (to) bring justice for the victims of this organized auto theft and burglary crime ring.”

The individuals face a range of felony charges, including violating Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, second-degree burglary, identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, theft, vehicular eluding, cruelty to animals, possession of financial devices under multiple names, possession of IDs of multiple victims, providing false information to a pawnbroker, drug possession and possession of a weapon by a previous offender. There are also misdemeanor charges filed in the indictment, including criminal trespassing and criminal mischief.

“The women and men of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office are dedicated to protecting our community and bringing justice for victims of crimes. This is a good example of hard work and collaboration with our State partners to further protect victims and utilize every resource available to ensure justice is served,” said Chief Todd Reeves, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

Tsosie is in the custody of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Keltner, Wettig, and James are in the custody of the Colorado Department of Corrections, and Jameson is in the custody of the Wyoming Department of Corrections.

Keltner, Wettig and Jameson are currently serving prison sentences for crimes connected to the pattern of racketeering activity alleged in the indictment.

Tsosie, Keltner, Wettig and James are scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on Feb. 2, and Jameson is scheduled to appear at the same time for an advisement hearing.

The investigation in this case was conducted by the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office, and received financial support from the Colorado Auto Theft Prevention Authority.

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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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