(LARIMER COUNTY, Colo.) — With so many homes and neighborhoods deserted because of mandatory evacuations during Colorado’s week-old High Park Fire, the local sheriff has a new worry: potential looters.
Police arrested a 30-year-old Denver man on Saturday for allegedly using phony firefighter credentials to enter the fire’s restricted area. His truck displayed stolen government license plates, police said.
Michael Stillman Maher at first evaded authorities but was found later that night at a local bar. He was arrested for impersonating a firefighter, theft and attempting to influence a public servant. Police say they found stolen property and a firearm in Maher’s car, although they did not say if it came from a home evacuated because of the fire.
A Larimer County Sheriff’s Department statement said there were no confirmed cases of looting.
“Residents worried about looting in the fire area should be reassured there is a very strong law enforcement and National Guard presence to deter any such activity,” according to the statement.
Officials said they are beefing up roving patrols and deploying mobile surveillance equipment to catch looters in the act.
“We have extra roving patrols to watch for looters,” Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said at a briefing. “If someone’s sneaking around back there, we’ll find them.”
Maher is currently in a Larimer County Jail, pending setting of bond, according to the local sheriff’s office.
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Sheena Jones, CNN
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Amanda Taylor, KSL.com