~ by Trevor Phipps ~
When living in a rural community like Teller County it is easy to develop the frame of mind that certain things won’t happen up here. It is easy to get a false sense of security and believe this small mountain town is immune from things like the “porch pirate” epidemic or other bad things that take place in the big city.
“Porch pirate” is a term that was coined to describe criminals that stalk neighborhoods and steal packages off their victim’s front porch as soon as they arrive. During the holidays, many reports of porch pirates make their way into local media sources. It has also been relatively common to hear about Postal Service workers stealing mail from residents but this usually only takes place in large metro areas.
Last week, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office announced an arrest that proves to locals that Teller County is not immune to crimes of this nature taking place. Last Friday January 19, the U.S. Postal Inspectors called upon the Teller County Sheriff’s Office and the Woodland Park Police Department and asked for their assistance in apprehending a suspect that they have been investigating for quite some time.
Their suspect, 44 year old Woodland Park resident Robert Hammontree allegedly has been stealing U.S. mail and other packages from people’s residences and mailboxes. Supposedly, Hammontree committed the thefts three to five times a week over the last year. Evidently, Hammontree did not care what he stole from people as reports said he robbed anything from Amazon packages to gift cards to Christmas presents to cash. The crime spree has taken place over the last year or so and he has victimized residents all over Colorado Springs, Woodland Park and all of the communities in between.
Once law enforcement officials arrested Hammontree they were able to officially name him as a suspect in another crime recently committed locally. According to a press release put out by the Teller County Sheriff’s Office, Hammontree has been named a suspect in a “stink bombing” incident that took place earlier this month inside a Woodland Park post office. Allegedly, Hammontree released a toxic gas inside a local post office. During the arrest the police were able to gain custody of a container that was filled with a “noxious substance” that the police believe Hammontree used inside the public building.
Last Friday night, Hammontree was booked into Teller County Jail facing the following charges: theft of $1,000 or more, unlawful conduct or act on public property, obstructing government operations, disorderly conduct, and criminal use of a noxious substance. The bond for all of his crimes was set at $25,000. According to the sheriff’s office press release, Hammontree has “an extensive criminal theft history in Texas and Colorado.”