Durango's 11

Durango's 11

Put this in the strange crime file. Over the holiday weekend, two people suspected of breaking into and living in a closed downtown Durango motel came up with rather bold explanations when caught by cops: not only were they authorized to live there, they worked there as well.

It may not be as masterfully planned or skillfully executed as George Clooney and his Ocean’s 11 heists, but hey, it’s Durango.

The first incident happened on New Year’s Eve after two actual employees of a construction company leading a renovation at the Durango Downtown Inn, 800 Camino del Rio, saw a man shatter a window with a hammer and then enter inside. Another giveaway he wasn’t employed – he wasn’t wearing shoes. Gonna give a zero on stealth points there.

When Durango Police arrived, they went to the room and called for the man to come out. According to police records, when the man eventually exited the room, he appeared confused. He went on to explain that he worked for the business as a security guard. He didn’t have any identification, sure, but the owner of the hotel asked him to watch over it. And hey, officers also noted the man was now wearing tall work boots and “miscellaneous tools,” so, that seems official, right?

But here’s where the man made another damning mistake: he changed his story, several times. He couldn’t remember the owner’s name, but was hired on good faith. Then, on second thought, he was actually under self-contract for his own personal business. Oh wait, no, he was a painter.

Turns out, officers found about $14,000 in damages in the room that the man, Matthew Darnell, 32, was staying in. There was even fresh graffiti with “Darnell” written in multiple spots. I mean, we get leaving a “calling card” at the crime scene. But really? Your actual name? 

Then, on New Year’s Day, officers were again called to the inn after another person was spotted illegally entering a hotel room. When officers made contact with the individual, Christopher Prewitt, 39, he had gone a step further, putting on a yellow safety vest and holding a clipboard before welcoming officers. “Christopher claimed to be an inspector for radiation and told us that it was not safe to be inside the hotel,” officers wrote.

Yeah, he was arrested too, especially after investigators found he had a plethora of stolen checks, credit cards and financial information from inside the hotel. Oh, and he also allegedly lit a fire in the bathtub and attempted to put it out with a (also stolen) fire extinguisher.

Another undoing for both these suspects, Cmdr. Ray Shupe said, was that the men were well known to officers, having a long rap sheet of crime in the area. “Officers have dealt with them often and knew they shouldn’t have been in there,” Shupe said. “(The excuses) were ill-advised, I would say.”

Both men were charged with burglary as well as a range of other associated offenses, and earned a D+ in stealth points for their crimes. And we really, really hope there’s no Durango’s 12.

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