Thieves tore open a hole in the back fence of Star Valley business owner Dean Ulmer's RV business last Wednesday and under blaring spotlights and using Ulmer's own shop tools, "nonchalantly" spent 90 minutes pushing open the front gate with an ATV and driving away in a sand rail without anyone seeing a thing.
Damages add up to nearly $8,000 and Ulmer blames the Town of Star Valley for not having a police force or adequate police protection to keep businesses in the town safe from criminals and said he wants something done about it.
"Let's put it this way, if I was a crook, this is the place I'd be," said Ulmer. "It wouldn't be so bad I guess if they didn't have so much time without anyone seeing anything, and to top it off, they even used my tools to steal my property," he added.
Star Valley town officials expressed sympathy for the break-in.
"We're of course sorry for Mr. Ulmer's loss, but I want to assure our residents they have good police protection and to keep their eyes open, and bad guys -- watch out," said Star Valley Town Manager Vito Tedeschi.
The Town of Star Valley has no police force of its own right now; Payson Police currently provides services under the terms of a contract with Star Valley, but only on an on-call basis. In the wake of the incident, Payson Police said they would step up patrols in the neighboring town when possible.
Star Valley plans to start its own police force by 2009, but until then, calls are answered by Payson Police.
Payson Police Chief Don Engler said his officers do conduct some patrols in Star Valley, but a limited force of 33 officers only allows so much patrolling outside of Payson.
Ulmer owns Bradshaw Mountain Enterprises on E. Highway 260, and said thieves broke into his business about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 9 by climbing over and going through a small hole they cut in the back fence. Then working brazenly in a well-lit yard with 13 spotlights and a streetlight, stole a blue, 250cc sand rail valued at $4,000, while causing an estimated $3,500 in property damage.
Ulmer said that while he does blame the Town of Star Valley for not having a police force of their own to conduct patrols and keep businesses safe from theft, he is happy with service from the Payson Police Department.
"I have no complaint with Payson police. They were here within 10 minutes of my call and they handled it all just perfect," said Ulmer. "What I'm mad about is that we don't have any kind of regular police force or patrols here in Star Valley, the place is wide open to crooks."
Ulmer said thieves used a 2004 Polaris Ranger 500 to push open the front gate, which went unnoticed by police or anyone else for that matter, after failing to to pry open the lock with a car jack and drill.
"We conduct between 15 and 20 patrols during the course of a week in Star Valley," said Engler. "But after a conversation I had today (Jan. 10) with Vito (Tedeschi), I'm going to step up patrols even more even, though we don't have any contract requiring us to provide that service."
On May 3 of last year, the Payson Town Council approved a contract lasting until June 30, 2009 to provide police service to Star Valley, and also providing two additional officers and two more squad cars for Payson, not solely dedicated to Star Valley, to accommodate the increased workload.
The agreement stipulated Star Valley would receive basic services only, meaning no obligation to conduct regular patrols.
"In December 2007, 32 percent of the Payson Police Department's calls were for preventative patrols in Star Valley," said Tedeschi. "That comes to about 30 patrols in a 30-day period."
Tedeschi said he also spoke with Engler about starting a Star Valley Posse to help alleviate the lack of police presence, but they came to no decision on it.