DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a series of nearly a dozen smash-and-grab thefts that happened at several equine centers across the county.

“One of our boarders came in ran inside for a brief second, came back out and her purse was gone,” Scott Ralston, the manager at Castlewood Equestrian Center, said.

He said they reported that to the Sheriff’s Office. He said the first time happened around 6 p.m. Then, they were targeted two more times over the period of a month, with both of those thefts happening in the middle of the day.

“Then we got hit again once on a Saturday, then on a Sunday and they smashed and grabbed. Those were around noon, lunchtime, when there were a lot of people here,” Ralston said.

He said in all three situations, the thieves went straight to a local Walmart to buy gift cards.

“They are very brazen about it,” Ralston said.

One of the victims, Carolyn Williamson, had her purse stolen while she was in the middle of a riding lesson on Super Bowl Sunday.

“I got into my car and I thought, I don’t remember leaving that window down. That’s when I realized it was completely smashed out,” Williamson said.

She said the thieves charged $500 in gift cards at Walmart.

“It’s organized crime. It has to be more than one group of three people. They all have the same MO (modus operandi),” Williamson said.

11 smash-and-grabs reported at horse stables

The Sheriff’s Office said from Feb. 4-March 1 they had 11 reports of smash-and-grabs on equine properties. In many of the cases, the thieves went to a nearby Walmart to buy gift cards.

Here is the list they shared with FOX31/Channel 2:

  • Castlewood Canyon Horse Stables
  • Empower Equestrian
  • Two Bridges Open Space
  • Little Raven Ranch
  • Aurum Equestrian Center
  • Colorado Equine Clinic
  • Lost Lake Equestrian Center
  • Colorado Horse Park
  • Morning Glory Equestrian
  • Zuma’s Rescue Ranch

“I think they put a piece of rubber over the window then break it to muffle the sound,” Ralston said.

He said they also believe the thieves dress the part so they blend in. But now everyone is being extra vigilant, and if someone seems off, they will talk to them.

“This has always been a peaceful, quiet place where people come to get away from all the issues in the world, then they follow us in here,” Ralston said.

He also mentioned equine centers are communicating with each other and keeping an eye on where these thieves are traveling to.

The Sheriff’s Office said they have increased patrol in these types of areas and are actively investigating all these cases and have some leads on possible suspects. They said they are working with other jurisdictions to see if their cases are related.

“This is their horses’ home so they feel like it’s an extension of their own home, so they feel safe,” Ralston said.