Boulder County, CO - Unmarked Boulder County Sheriff's Car Stolen From Detective's Apartment - Vehicle Found - AR15- 30 Round Mag - Ballistic Vest Missing

September 23, 2014

Police have recovered an unmarked Boulder County sheriff's car but an assault rifle, ammunition and a bulletproof vest that were in it are still missing.

"It's a police weapon that's out there in the hands of who knows who, and that's a concern," said Cheri Spottke, an investigator with the Westminster Police Department.

The car was taken from outside detective's Westminster apartment overnight Wednesday.

"When he awoke (Thursday) morning, he noticed the keys to his vehicle missing. When he went to the parking lot, the vehicle was also missing," said Spottke.

The 2005 black Ford Taurus was discovered missing at about 6 a.m. from the 3800 block of West 68th Street, said Boulder County sheriff's Cmdr. Rick Brough.

It was found at 2:47 p.m. in the 7100 block of Stuart Street in Westminster, after a neighbor reported a suspicious vehicle. The car was parked in a dirt lot behind a two-story apartment building.

"We saw the car back there, and we thought we just had new neighbors," said Lynette Montoya, a neighbor.

The sedan contained an AR-15 assault rifle stored in a locked vault in the trunk along with three 30-round magazines and a concealable ballistic vest, Brough said.

"Inspection of the vehicle did not indicate there was any forced entry into the vehicle or that the ignition had been tampered with," said Brough. "Numerous items were taken from the vehicle, which included the AR-15 rifle, AR-15 magazines (and) ammunition, ballistic vest and the officer’s duty belt."

Brough said deputies keep shotguns and rifles in the trunk vaults, secured with a combination lock or padlock. The sheriff’s office does not have a policy about removing the guns from cars when off duty because officials feel the guns are secure in the vaults.

The officer's car keys were on his key chain with his apartment keys. He entered his apartment with an armload of documents for a pending court appearance and said he inadvertently left the keys in the door lock.

This is the first time the agency has had a car stolen, Brough noted.

It’s unclear whether the thief knew it was a police vehicle, said Brough, adding that he was wary of giving too many details about the storage of firearms in vehicles for fear that thieves could target other police cars.

An AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle and its sale is not restricted to law enforcement officers.

The police department is asking for any information on the possible whereabouts of the assault rifle or information about the person or people who took the car.