With some help from Mother Nature, the Durango Police Department arrested five burglary suspects in connection with three separate incidents early Tuesday.
The first incident occurred about 1 a.m. when police noticed footprints in the snow between several cars in the west 100 block of 20th Street. Three men were arrested on suspicion of checking for unlocked doors on about 40 vehicles, said Durango police Capt. Micki Browning.
Two men were found to be in possession of items taken from the cars; a third suspect was arrested after a short foot chase.
The suspects were identified as Reed Thompson and Shane Tanner, both 21, from Durango; and John Thompson, 18. All three were booked into the La Plata County Jail.
Browning said police have returned some of the stolen property to the victims.
The second incident occurred about 1:05 a.m. when an alarm activated at the American Legion, 878 East Second Ave.
Upon arrival, police found an open door and an interior door pried open. Contents of a safe were strewn about. Officers followed a set of footprints in the snow that led to an automobile, which in turn led to the identification of Brant E. Overbee, 31, according to a news release from the police department.
Overbee was arrested on suspicion of felony burglary, possession of burglary tools and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.
The third incident occurred about 2:10 a.m. when a resident saw a man sneaking around a neighbor's home in the 600 block of Valentine Drive. Police responded and again tracked shoe-prints in the snow until contacting a 16-year-old boy several blocks away.
The boy was arrested on suspicion of felony burglary after attempting to pry open the door of a residence while the occupants slept inside, the news release said.
The boy also is suspected of trying to enter about 30 parked cars along North Glenisle Avenue, six of which he successfully gained entry. The juvenile was taken to the Robert E. DeNier Youth Services Center.
In addition to these incidents, four businesses were burglarized early Tuesday: Cyprus Café, 725 East Second Ave.; Home Slice Pizza, 441 College Drive; the Volunteers of America Thrift Store, 639 East Second Ave.; and Dare to Dress, 575 East Fourth Ave.
Police were investigating whe-ther any of the suspects arrested Tuesday morning is connected with the burglaries, Browning said.
The number of incidents that occurred early Tuesday is somewhat of an anomaly, Browning said, and police were fortunate to have the footprints in the snow. But it also helped that police were proactive in noticing suspicious footprints and responding to incidents in a timely fashion, she said.
"I don't think (the criminal suspects) were thinking about the weather conditions," Browning said. "It certainly makes our job easier."
In all, the suspects checked about 70 cars for unlocked doors, Browning said. She reminded residents to lock their car and house doors.
"Criminals are opportunists, and if you make it easy, they will victimize you," she said.