Colorado Springs private investigator helps a women reunite with stolen puppy after Colorado Springs police refuses to pursue dognapper captured on surveillance video
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blog
"Junior had gotten out while I was at the store and I went around calling his name and calling it out for three hours" explains Colorado Springs resident, Brandy Trejo once she and her pit bull, Junior were reunited. She's been walking around the neighborhood calling the name of her missing dog for a few hours when a neighbor approached her, reporting that "she was driving right past my house and these two men said 'hey that’s my neighbor’s dog' and she didn’t know any better and handed the dog over."
See also: the Lost Llama of Loveland
Pit bull theft, unfortunately, is a problem in Colorado. Breeds with reputations as fighters get stolen and sold to dog fighting rings. "There are some bad people who want dogs for breeding purposes maybe they thought they could make money off of dog fighting. There’s a whole big thing going on in Colorado right now where people are stealing dogs for dog fighting and those are all pit bulls. I kept thinking you’d see him on TV and find out they’d busted a dog ring or something. That was my biggest fear," explains Trejo who thought the security camera footage and license place number would be sufficient for the police.
Fortunately, Brandy's across the street neighbor agreed to let Brandy and her husband view the security footage for the stretch of time Junior had gone missing. Sure enough, video evidence revealed what had happened along with the vehicle and the license plate that took Junior away.
Claiming it was out of their jurisdiction, "the police couldn’t do anything Trejo explains, and I decided to call a private investigator." Although Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) law precludes Colorado PIs from providing the residential addresses, Trailfinders wanted to help. They told Brandy, " it was the El Paso County Sheriff’s jurisdiction."
Unable to "just sit back and wait" Brandy headed over with the intention of driving around all the trailer parks in the jurisdiction to see if she could spot the car in the video footage. Without missing a beat, Trejo called the police and putting an officer on speaker phone, knocked on the door, confident that Junior was inside because the surveillance footage that matched the car outside. "It was very distinctive because I saw the license place on the footage and it has huge black rims on it so that’s something you can’t miss" she said.
“The private investigator pretty much told me what jurisdiction and a friend told me to call the police in the jurisdiction to see if they could help me but I wanted to find my dog and so I just went there and drove around I couldn’t sit back and wait," she explained when asked why she didn't take more precautions. She wanted Junior back. “The private investigator pretty much told me what jurisdiction and a friend told me to call the police in the jurisdiction to see if they could help me but I wanted to find my dog and so I just went there and drover around I couldn’t sit back and wait."
"If you get nothing for them then call me back. But don’t spend your money on me until you’ve exhausted your lead over there," Trailfinders told her. “The fact he didn’t take my money just told me what I needed to do – that was really great." Trejo reflects, "he said ‘try getting a hold of the local police department there and see what you can do. If they can’t help he would have gone to the house himself. But it turned out she was able to do that on her own.
"When (Junior's suspected captors) opened the door I showed the lady the flier and told them one of their neighbors called and said they had a puppy that looked like mine. That’s what I told them and when the opened the door I saw my puppy right there. She said she saw the dog on the road and was going to give him back. I know for a fact they were not planning on giving him back because he was wearing a $45 collar," she said, still reverberating from the shock of being let down by her local police.
“I had put all of my trust and hope into the police department I felt like the police are there to help you. Whenever they told me they couldn’t help me and I had put all my energy into getting information in the police and I’d lost all my hope and faith that my dog was coming back and then I found Trailfinders." Trejo says she cried the whole way home and the day after.
According to The Denver Channel, Denver City Council just voted to repeal it's 30 year pit bull ban. The repeal will take 90 days to go into effect so if you're a Denver resident considering pit bull guardianship you may also want to invest in security cameras and/or surveillance systems.
Castle Rock's town council repealed the ban in 2018 and if you reside in Lone Tree, Louisville or Commerce City the ban is still on so you're out of luck. The City of Aurora is still discussing whether or not to repeal it's pit bull ban.
Former Denver Sheriff's Deputy, Bret Carbone sentenced to 1 year probation and fines for felony menacing - Part 2 of the "Are Denver Process Servers Safe" series
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
In mid-July, the 17th Judicial District Adams and Broomfield Counties District Attorney's Office sent Thomas Mills a letter informing the Colorado process server that former Denver Sheriff's Deputy and Defendant, Brett Carbone --the man who pointed a gun at Mills during a Commerce City serve--- was found guilty of felony menacing charges and sentenced to 1 year probation, 100 hours of community service and fines.
See also: Are process servers safe, part 1? and Felony Menacing charge issued to the Denver Deputy who pulled a gun on a Colorado private investigator.
Carbone is "no longer with the Denver Sheriff Department," according to City and County of Denver Sheriff Department Communications Director, Daria Serna who did not provide additional information, however when he pulled a gun on Tom Mills late last year, he was an off duty Sheriff's deputy being served papers for a late bill that was less than $200.
Was termination of employment and community service a sufficient penalty and rehabilitation measure and has the court taken action to ensure the incident will not just recur the next time an unlucky process server happens to knock on Carbone's Commerce City door?
In a phone conversation with 17th Judicial District's Chief Information Officer, Sue Lindsay, I was assured that Carbone will indeed undergo a "mental health evaluation and anger management." Lindsay also explained that Carbone will be charged for the probation expense which the court itemized at $2400.
A more extensive interview with Lindsay is be forthcoming and hopefully details like the $2.50 "genetic testing service charge" will be clarified.
In the follow up interview, which will be done over email and perhaps a follow-up call, Lindsay will also address my questions regarding the resources that will be allocated to Mills for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as Mills now suffers from the condition as a direct result of being threatened at gun point.
Do you have questions for Sue Lindsay or for Tom Mills (who I will interview later this week)? Feel free to post them in the comments section below. You can also comment on the Twitter feed or Facebook page and all relevant questions will be forwarded.
Are Denver process servers safe? The Denver Private Investigator Blog talks process server safety with Tom Mills - part 1
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
DENVER - I'm sipping coffee in a beryl-blue-gray vinyl restaurant booth in Capitol Hill's Jelly cafe as Tom Mills steps through the door. Mills' story was brought to my attention by 9News' Kyle Clark and Anastasiya Bolton. Colorado process servers and private investigators are reassessing safety practices and deliberating on how best to minimize risk, following the coverage, which I summarized in a November 27, 2017 blog post.
After ordering a glass of water --diabetes symptoms were prohibiting coffee-- Mills thoughtfully reviews the printout of questions I’ve handed him. Before starting the interview, I want to know how he’s been doing since the November 6, 2017 Commerce City, Colorado serve that turned into a life threatening situation.
The day of the serve, Mills drove to Adams county to serve papers to Bret Martin Carbone --who also happens to be a Denver Sheriff's deputy. Carbone lied, telling Mills he was just there to take care of the dogs, however, Mills didn't buy it. After returning to his car to verify Carbone's identity on Facebook, Mills returned to Carbone's house to complete the serve. As anyone who has seen the widely posted and shared video knows, Carbone opened the door, pointing a gun at Mills and telling him to get off of his property.
See also: Felony menacing charge issued to the Denver Deputy who pulled a gun on a Colorado private investigator
Despite the threat to his life, Mills actually did manage to complete the serve. "Got in my car shaking like crazy. I already have high blood pressure," he explained. He called the police who arrived just as Carbone was trying to drive away. The police had to order Carbone out of his vehicle and disarm him in order to make the surprise discovery that the perpetrator of the felony menacing charge also happened to be a sheriff's deputy.
Mills is now being treated for post traumatic stress disorder. He is no longer doing evening and night serves. Although Mills is a military vet who served overseas, he did not have PTSD prior to the November 6, 2017 serve.
Carbone is now being charged with felony menacing. The case was moved from a local to a district court because of the seriousness of the charge and the next hearing will take place in a district court on January 29th. Two of the female process servers who worked for Mills quit immediately following the incident citing safety concerns. As he now only serves papers during the daytime, when it’s safer, Mills' income has also taken a hit.
Mills is not the first Colorado process server to have a gun pointed in him. Process Servers Association of America President, Steve Glenn had found himself in an almost identical situation when serving papers, however because Glenn had no video evidence and "it was all he said, she said," Mills explained, there were no grounds for pressing legal charges in Glenn's situation because he did not video record his serve.
For the benefit of every process server reading this, I ask Mills to demonstrate how he records his serves discreetly. Mills holds his phone in front of the clipboard he carries with him when he does his serves. For purposes of a photo demo (below) he holds his phone in front of the paper I handed him with the interview questions printed out.
If you are a process server reading this and you do not video record your serves, please begin doing so immediately. No need to invest in special equipment. All you need is a phone, a clip board and/or piece paper, as shown in the photo below.
(end of part 1)
Felony menacing charge issued to the Denver Deputy who pulled a gun on a Colorado private investigator
By Susanna Speier
Denver Private Investigator Blogger
In a story that hopefully shed's more light on the challenges Colorado private investigators face, 9News' Kyle Clark and Anastasiya Bolton reported that Denver Sheriff's deputy Bret Martin Carbone, has been charged with felony menacing after a Nov. 6 incident that occurred when Carbone pulled a gun on licensed private investigator, Tom Mills at Carbone’s Commerce City home in Adams County.
The incident, which was also reported by The Denver Post's Tom McGhee, occurred when Mills knocked on Carbone's door. The earbud wearing, NASA t-shirt clad man who opened the door said his name was "John" and he was just at the house to look after the dogs. That was a lie.
Sensing he smelled a rat, Mills returned to his car and used Facebook to verify that the earbud wearing, NASA t-shirt clad guy at the door was not a guy named "John" and that he was, indeed, Bret Carbone.
Mills then returned to Carbone's house --which is located on the 11800 block of Granby Street, according to a17th Judicial District Attorney's Office news release--- to, once again try and serve the papers, which, by the way, were for a debt of only $150.
This time, the earbud wearing, NASA t-shirt clad man opened the door with a black handgun pointed directly at Mills. "Get off my property," growled the Denver Sheriff's Deputy!
Although Mills later described the experience to 9News as scary one ---and he is now considering quitting the industry as a result of it-- Mills nevertheless managed to serve those papers to Carbone who is now scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 19, 2017. Meanwhile, the Denver sheriff's department has put their Denver deputy on investigatory leave.
The take home? What --besides the obvious, good thing he was wearing a video cam-- do you think? Have you had a similar experience on the job? What measures do you take to protect yourself when serving papers?
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