Man frustrated with Thornton police after stolen car recovered but not returned

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BRIGHTON, Colo. -- A Brighton man who served in the Marine Corps says his car was stolen with valuable items inside. However, he’s still unable to get his car from a tow yard after it was taken as evidence.

Andrew Alvarez says commuting has been difficult for him and his wife since the vehicle was stolen while he was working out at VASA Fitness on East 104th Avenue in Thornton on Sept. 25.

“My in-laws are kind of helping a little bit, getting my wife to work,” Alvarez told FOX31.

According to the Thornton Police Department, 33-year-old Elijah Jesse stole Alvarez’s gym bag from his locker at VASA.

Alvarez says he was getting ready to move into the aquatics area and went to the locker room to change.

“That’s when I found my lock was missing, opened the locker — everything inside was gone, car keys and everything,” he said.

Alvarez says he used a combination lock, and has no idea how Jesse was able to break into his locker.

By the time he made the discovery, though, his 2017 Ford Fusion was missing from the parking lot.

Police say Jesse crashed the stolen car in Thornton a day later and fled the scene on foot.

He has not been arrested yet.

Police recovered Alvarez’s wallet, but he says it took another week for police to release it from evidence.

“Upon asking about any other items in the vehicle, they said that they didn’t have time to take the inventory,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez says he’s unsure whether his military challenge coin is still in the car.

“That’s a big sentimental value to me because it was given to me by my father the day of my graduation, of becoming a Marine,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez -- a chef -- says his work uniform and culinary knives were in the trunk. He says they were worth hundreds of dollars.

“Every knife I acquired at a certain job, through a certain trade. So every knife had its meaning for me,” he said.

But the hardest part, according to Alvarez, is losing a vehicle that represented a turning point in his family’s life — after coming close to filing for bankruptcy several years ago.

“This vehicle was kind of like a restart on our lives. It was progressing to where we could move out of this house and eventually become first-time homeowners ourselves," he said.

The FOX31 Problem Solvers reached out to the Thornton Police Department to find out why neither Alvarez nor his insurance company are allowed to get into the car.

Our calls were not returned.

Alvarez says neither were his.

“Everything is held up right now with the police hold and zero information,” he said.

Alvarez says his gym bag mysteriously reappeared at the gym days later, but that no one notified him of it until he came in to talk to someone at the front desk.

He has since canceled his membership with VASA Fitness, saying he was disappointed with how the corporate office handled the situation.

“I reached out to VASA in hopes they would sympathize or say ‘this was unfortunate.’ The most they wanted to do for me was give them a two-month credit. And honestly, I wasn’t going to go back to that gym after having property stolen there. That just sounds a little ridiculous," Alvarez said.

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