Man accused of ATV, motorcycle thefts

Mesa County Sheriff’s Department investigators allege an 18-year-old Grand Junction man stole seven ATVs and two motorcycles from residents’ yards, then marketed them on Craigslist.com.

Stephen Van Ness turned himself in to the Mesa County Jail on Tuesday. He was booked on suspicion of 17 offenses, including motor vehicle theft, trespassing and criminal mischief.

All of the vehicles were stolen between Dec. 22 and Feb. 20. Five have been recovered and returned to their owners, deputies said.

Deputies suspect the thief drove rural neighborhoods looking for vehicles left unsecured and returned at night to take them. All the vehicles stolen either had keys in them or did not require a key to start.

Investigators got their first break in February, according to an arrest affidavit.

An officer in Pueblo notified local deputies that he had spotted a 2004 Polaris 500 ATV on Craigslist.com. The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Department deputy contacted the seller and asked for the vehicle’s identification number. A quick check revealed the ATV was stolen.

On Feb. 20, deputies traced the seller to an address in the 500 block of 32 1/2 Road. Van Ness was there and was taken for questioning, deputies said.

Van Ness agreed to show deputies where he stole ATVs and bikes.

Through that process, most of the stolen vehicles have been returned to their owners. Four remain unaccounted for, Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said.

Those who purchase stolen vehicles, even unknowingly, have little recourse. Recovered stolen property is returned to its rightful owner.


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