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Hotel employees thwart thieves

Hotel employees went above and beyond the call of duty last week, helping to protect guests of the Springs Resort from having property stolen out of their vehicles and helping return property that had already been removed.

According to Det. Scott Maxwell of the Pagosa Springs Police Department, employees of the Springs Resort hotel noticed two men entering vehicles in the parking lot Friday shortly before 6 p.m.

The men entered two vehicles, one of which was likely left unlocked and another through an open window, before being caught in the act attempting to enter a third car.

One of the employees who noticed the suspicious behavior, Diana Ramsey, approached the men after taking a wheelchair to a guest room, asking them whose truck they were entering.

“It just didn’t look right when I was watching them,” Ramsey said of her decision to approach the subjects.

Ramsey said one of the suspects reported it was his brother’s truck and that his name was Gaylord. Ramsey then asked another employee if they knew who owned the truck, and determined the vehicle belonged to another employee who said the man’s story was not true.

At the same time, Ramsey said a hotel guest reported a camera missing from her car.

Ramsey said four employees then spread out to look for the suspects and found them across the street from the resort in the parking lot near the bridge on Hot Springs Boulevard. Ramsey saw the two sitting in a car and called to them, informing them they had been caught and that she was calling the police.

The men locked the property in the vehicle before running away, Maxwell reported.

Ramsey followed the subjects along the base of Reservoir Hill, reporting their movement to the dispatcher until police were on the scene.

Officers Floyd Capistrant and T.J. Fitzwater found the subjects — Neal Stringer, 19, and Rodolfo Lizarraga, 20, both of La Quinta, Calif. — behind the U.S. Post Office on Hot Springs Boulevard, Maxwell said.

“If I hadn’t taken that chair to that room, I never would have seen them,” Ramsey said. “I just paid attention, is all.”

Both suspects were charged with first-degree trespass into a vehicle, a class-IV felony; felony conspiracy; and misdemeanor theft, Maxwell said.

Property was stolen from two of the three cars tampered with and included three digital cameras, a cell phone and a GPS, valued at about $1,110, Maxwell reported.

All of the stolen property was found in a car belonging to a companion of Stringer and Lizarraga, who was not involved in the thefts.

“We got them, thankfully,” Ramsey said. “It was definitely a group effort.”