On March 11, deputies with the Weld County Sheriff's Office recovered a stolen backhoe, that had an estimated value of $120,000.

Deputy Donovan Pecorella responded to a cold theft call that came in at approximately 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning from Aims Community College in Fort Lupton. The reporting party claimed that his John Deere backhoe had been stolen overnight.

Once deputies arrived on scene, the owner of the backhoe informed them that the piece of machinery was equipped with a GPS tracker. Deputy Pecorella and the backhoe's owner tracked the vehicle to 5402 Weld County Road 23. While en route to that location, the GPS tracker showed that the backhoe was inside a building on the property.

However, when deputies arrived to that address, the backhoe had been moved to an access road off the property. Not only that, but the piece of equipment had also been stripped of its license plate and all identifying markings.

Deputies contacted Ramon Ramirez, the owner of the property where the backhoe was tracked to. Ramirez claimed he found the vehicle on the side of the road on Tuesday night and proceeded to take it to his shop. Ramirez also told police that he assumed the owner would come looking for it, so he moved it back out onto the road before heading to Denver on Wednesday morning. Furthermore, Ramirez claimed that he called Weld County Dispatch on Tuesday to report finding the backhoe, but no record of that call exists.

Upon obtaining a search warrant for Ramirez's property, detectives, deputies and canine officers located the backhoe's license plate inside of a burn pit that was within a fenced area of the land. Deputies remained on scene into late Wednesday afternoon, and the investigation is still ongoing.

Ramirez returned from Denver while police were still on scene at his property, and he was arrested on suspicion of first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, a Class 3 felony.

WCSO

Anyone with information regarding this or any other crime is asked to call the Weld County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 356-4015 or Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at www.crimeshurt.com. Those submitting tips through Crime Stoppers that lead to the arrest and filing of charges on a suspect(s) may be eligible for a cash reward.