An unlocked gate provides 24/7 access through the fence that surrounds Salida Airport Harriet Alexander Field, but a thief cut a hole in the airport’s chain link fence anyway during a burglary of Salida’s public airport early Saturday morning.
“It’s very perplexing,” said Zechariah Papp, airport manager.
Surveillance footage from 4:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. shows a slender man wearing a face mask, a camouflage hoodie and sweatpants under basketball shorts.
To gain access to the airport terminal, which is locked after hours, he crawled through an office window and used the window to take items out to his vehicle, a white Ford Ranger truck, before he realized he could open the building’s doors from the inside.
As of Tuesday, Papp said he was still discovering which items had been stolen and still trying to find a pattern among the seemingly random things the thief took.
While the burglar unsuccessfully tried to pry a unisex bathroom sign off a door, he left a large flatscreen television untouched; while he swiped a collection of model airplanes and souvenir mugs, he passed over expensive radio equipment; while he took Papp’s coffee maker, he did not touch Papp’s computers.
“It does ring a little bit odd,” said Salida Police Chief Terry Clark, who noted that thieves typically target items that can be easily pawned.
The Salida Police Department is currently investigating the incident, but no suspects have yet been identified, Clark said.
“It takes the whole community to solve these cases usually,” Clark said.
The burglary at the airport followed a string of about four burglaries at construction sites over the last month in Salida, Clark said.
Normal airport operations continued throughout the weekend despite the theft, Papp said.
“He didn’t break anything. He just stole stupid items,” Papp said.
Despite a sign over the terminal’s main door about the presence of security cameras, the thief only realized he was being recorded near the end of the hour-long burglary, at which point he began unplugging the camera system.
Papp had already repaired the security camera system by Tuesday and said he was considering adding more cameras.
To submit information about the incident, call the Salida Police Department at 539-6880. To provide information anonymously, call Chaffee County Crime Stoppers at 539-5299.