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Here's why they say "cover your tracks" -- especially in the snow

Categories: Colorado Crimes

footprints in snow from flickr.jpg
A Flickr photo
You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to track these prints...
Congratulations, Patrick Moat, Ryan Spear and Brian Coshnitzke. You've just put your marks in the History of Stupid Criminals -- marks shaped like the footprints in the snow police were able to follow to your door.

Greenwood Village Police Lieutenant Randy Corbitt tells the story, which gets dumber, and funnier, each step of the way.

"These people walked away from a halfway house," says Corbitt, referring to the Arapahoe County Community Transition Center, which tries to help former lawbreakers transition into law-abiding citizens, not back to crime again. "Then, at around two o'clock in the morning, we got a report of a robbery at a 7-Eleven, and officers went there looking for the bad guys -- and they saw footprints in the snow. It was really early and there wasn't much foot traffic, so they followed them to a Motel 6 -- and in one of the rooms, they could hear a commotion. They were arguing so loudly the officers could hear it all the way out in the hall -- and they could tell it was regarding money and something that just happened. And since we have trained investigators here, they started figuring out, 'Hey, these might be our bad guys.'"

At that point, Corbitt goes on, the officers "surrounded the room, but they didn't want to come out. So they basically sat on the hotel room and then tried to obtain a warrant. And after the judge signed it, we had the SWAT team execute the warrant, because they were armed robbers. They didn't want us to come in after them, so after some negotiations, they came out."

Before long, the charges multiplied thanks to yet another kind of trail left by the brainwork-challenged trio. "During the investigation, we discovered that a Subway had been broken into near the 7-Eleven," Corbitt notes. "There was blood at that scene, and there was blood at the scene of the 7-Eleven robbery, too, so we began to figure they were probably connected, and when it was all said and done, we were able to link them together." The working theory? "We think one of the guys had a bloody nose."

Moat, Spear and Coshnitzke aren't unique in their stupidity. "Early in my career, I tracked a burglar the same way," Corbitt recalls. "He'd burglarized a post office, and it was the same kind of thing -- same kind of weather and late at night, so nobody was walking around, and I followed the footprints back to the house where he'd gone."

As he puts it, "We always catch the really bright ones."


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