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Police investigating what may be largest burglary in recent memory

by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — A jurisdictional question regarding the location of a property burglarized last week near CO Hwy 10 and I-25 was solved Tuesday morning when Walsenburg Administrator Leslie Klusmire took the issue up with the Huerfano County Assessor’s Office.

On Wednesday June 1, the home of Louis Vezzani, was reported as the location of a residential burglary. According to Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman, Sgt. Craig Lessar of that agency initially responded to the scene at approximately 4:10 pm. Sgt. Lessar told the World Journal he contacted Huerfano County emergency service dispatch to ask which law enforcement agency had jurisdiction at the victim’s property location.

Sgt. Lessar said he was advised by dispatch the location was within the jurisdiction of the City of Walsenburg (300 block of Hwy. 10). Sgt. Lessar searched the home looking for any possible suspect who may still have been inside, but no one was found.

A short time later Walsenburg Police Chief Tommie McLallen and Capt. Vince Suarez arrived and took control of the investigation.

Klusmire said Tuesday the map of the property indicated an ‘exemption’ on the Vezzani home that was misinterpreted as the property being exempt from the City Ranch annexation, which was incorrect. Klusmire said the property is within the city limits and the case is under active investigation by the Walsenburg Police Department.

Klusmire said the county assessor’s staff researched the issue for over an hour on Tuesday.

While an actual dollar amount and property list of the items stolen was not immediately available, sources close to the investigation say a very large amount of cash, precious metals and jewelry were taken. When asked to confirm this, McLallen said that assessment was accurate.

McLallen said fingerprints were taken in the home and exemplars were taken from those available at the time for later forensic comparison, to weed out those whose fingerprints would normally be found at the location as opposed to those left behind by a possible burglar. McLallen told the World Journal on Tuesday, there are still other exemplar prints to be collected before the package of fingerprint evidence can be sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for the comparison study.

While there was a jurisdictional question early on in the investigation, McLallen said the police department has been working the case since it was reported.

McLallen said the information collected from victim interviews is also sparse, but he said the victim, Louis Vezzani, said a man came to the door of the residence and told him that Vezzani’s wife sent him to the home and he was allowed inside.

Law enforcement believe this ruse was used to allow the burglar to take advantage of a medical condition of the victim. A tentative description of a possible person of interest has been provided to Walsenburg police by Sgt. Lessar.

McLallen said approximately 36 hours of video from a security camera located on the property is being reviewed, and at least one unknown vehicle, a blue SUV, is seen entering the property, but investigators believe it left the property by another route since its exit was not recorded on tape.

McLallen said the tape is still being reviewed this week and other information being collected is also being investigated. He said a partial list of property believed stolen in the incident has been put into the statewide computer database, which is checked against pawn shop transactions across Colorado.

If anyone has information regarding this crime please call Huerfano County Dispatch Center at 719-738-1044 or the Walsenburg Police Department at 719- 738-1056.