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Cortez man suspected of robbing 20 individuals in one night

A man stole a vehicle and other items on a robbery spree Feb. 4.
Cody Tavra was arrested at his home in Cortez

After an early morning burglary spree, a Cortez man faces dozens of charges for allegedly robbing more than 20 individuals in Cortez, Dolores, Dove Creek and Durango on Sunday, Feb. 4

About 6:48 a.m. Feb. 4, the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office received the first of multiple burglary reports, with victims in Cortez, Dolores, Dove Creek and Durango. Later that morning, a man was arrested for suspected connection with the thefts.

In Deputy Marc West’s and Deputy Rebecca Lambert’s incident reports, they detailed the initial encounter with one of the victims of the thefts, saying they were flagged down by Joseph Plunket, who said he had video footage of someone trying to break into his vehicle at his home at 12476 Road 29.

The video showed a man walking up to Plunket’s truck and trying to open the door before driving off in a silver 2008 Saturn Vue bearing the Colorado license plate DRF062.

After running the license plate, the car was found to be registered to Cody Lee Tavra, who lives on Lakeside Drive in Cortez.

After driving to various locations around town and chasing after the perpetrator after receiving calls from other victims, the deputies arrived at Tavra’s home.

Tavra initially told deputies that he had been at home all night. He later admitted taking the missing items, taking officers to his vehicle where the stolen items were located.

Deputies arrested Tavra for criminal attempt, second-degree burglary, second-degree aggravated motor-vehicle theft, criminal possession of a financial device, nine counts of first-degree criminal trespass and theft.

The incident report also listed burglary, a stolen vehicle, larceny from vehicle, burglary, trespassing on private property and theft from the mail.

Legal definitions vary, but in general a burglary involves entering a building and remaining unlawfully with the intention of committing a crime. Larceny is the legal term for the wrongful taking of property.

The victims in the case were identified as Plunkett, Jenny Lynn Potter Todacheery, Robert Underwood, Lori Shearer, Brian Pardo, Jessica Russell, Rodney Hager, David Samulski, James Candelaria, David Partida, Mark Allen, David Rodriguez, Douglas Pickering, Ryan Springer, Deborah Hager, Cassandra Hamerschlag, Shane Baughman, Lance Harmon, Kenneth Geiger, Meegan Markham, Steven Moore and Mary Layne, Tavra’s mother.

The individual’s homes ranged in location from Road 29 in Dolores and Cortez, Road N, Road 27.6, Valley Place in Durango, Dove Creek and Logan, Utah.

The report from Plunket came at 6:49 a.m. and a report of suspicious activity was received from 13350 Road 27.6 at 7:28 a.m.

At that residence, Doug Pickering showed officers a video of a man in a gray track suit walking through his yard, attempting to open his front door. Once he realized the door was locked, he went back to his vehicle and drove away. Lambert noted that the man in the video matched the photo of Tavra’s driver’s license photo.

Later, on 11347 Road 27.6, deputies spoke with Partida, whose vehicle had been broken into. A red Swiss Army knife, black “pelican” flashlight and the vehicle’s registration were missing.

Deputies made contact with Candelaria at 13310 Road 27.6, where he showed them where his unlocked shed had been broken into, with items littered on the ground.

At 9:47 a.m., deputies responded to 28797 Road N, where they found two vehicles that had been broken into. The vehicles belonged to Russel.

At 11 a.m., police responded to 11607 Road 29, where they were told about a stolen vehicle. The 2015 gray Toyota Tacoma had been stolen from Samulski.

About 11:21 a.m., officers from the Cortez Police Department responded to Tavra’s home at 19 Lakeside Drive because of a reported disturbance, finding the suspect’s vehicle parked in the driveway with a boxed air mattress in the back.

At noon, Deputy Jarrod Jewell went to 11325 Road 29, where a stolen air mattress was missing from the owner’s vehicle. The mattress was owned by Pardo.

Deputies made contact with Tavra at his mother Layne’s home on Lakeside Drive. Deputies spoke with Tavra, who admitted to taking the missing items after questions from deputies.

When asked why he had taken the items, Tavra said he was being kicked out of his parents’ home and needed money.

The missing Tacoma was found near Elegant Hills, 28830 K.2.

The estimated value of the stolen items, excluding the Tacoma, was $1,000 to $2,000.

Once deputies searched Tavra’s vehicle, they found:

A cardboard box labeled “2015 time cards” that contained papers with the name “Candelaria Construction,” blue and black bag with the name “Hamerschlag,” queen-size air mattress in the original packaging, Amazon package labeled “Jenny Todacheeny 10286 Rd. 29 Cortez,” black bag containing speech therapy books with a tag labeled “E-66,” Toyota key and key fob, Ford owners manual, a black bag containing automotive supplies and mail, GMC owners manual and Toyota owners manual.

In Tavra’s room, they found a black and gray backpack containing a brown box with multiple credit cards, a checkbook and an Apple iPod with “Mark Allen” engraved on the back, a brown and a blue bag containing hand sanitizer and other small items, a box of mail belonging to multiple addresses and a Colorado driver’s license not issued to Tavra, multiple keys belonging to a vehicle not owned by Tavra and garage openers.

On Feb. 6, Deputy Peter Schmalz was given more evidence by Layne, who arrived at the Sheriff’s Office about 10:54 a.m.

She said she had found more items taken by Tavra.

Layne found a Farmer’s Insurance card belonging to Gail Magdalena, a piece of mail belonging to Cyndy Michaels, a First National Bank receipt, a pair of SolarShield prescription glasses covers, Arizona vehicle registration belonging to Magdalena and Partida and a box labeled “Zebekk” with an unknown tool inside.

On Feb. 8, Detective Allen Phelps said he and Lambert collected the Tacoma near Totten Lake.

Tavra will appear in court for his return filing of charges Tuesday at 9:30 a.m.