Wild spree overnight could be connected to crime ring involving 40 teens

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - "It took out the checking counter, it took out all the display cases, it took out a good chunk of the roof."

Police tell 11 News this is a growing trend in Colorado Springs over the last week; people driving cars into stores and stealing from them.

Jaymen Johnson's friend -- the owner of a Springs pot dispensary -- became the latest victim of a crime ring involving dozens of teens Wednesday morning.

Police believe the teens drove a stolen car into the building in an attempted smash-and-grab robbery at the dispensary off Platte Avenue and Chelton Road, where the Jeep was so deeply encased in the building, firefighters had to tear apart the roof to get it out.

The dramatic smash and grab attempt was only one stop in a wild night that saw police responding to multiple locations as the teens committed one crime after another.

The events of late Tuesday night through early Wednesday morning began at a Famous Footwear on 3080 N. Powers Blvd., where a Jeep smashed through the storefront, scattering shoeboxes across the room and leaving display cases in disarray. Police say the group made an unsuccessful attempt at cracking open a safe, then left with a bunch of shoes.

Police got a similar call around midnight Wednesday at the pot dispensary.

"The cleanup is going to be extensive," Johnson said of the tens of thousands of dollars in damage.

After leaving the Jeep Cherokee behind, police say the teenage crooks stole two more vehicles and began shooting at each other while speeding through the area of Academy Boulevard and Bijou Street. Officers eventually tracked them to South Nevada Avenue and Las Vegas Street, where one of the cars had crashed next to the nearby train tracks. The group ditched the car just off the tracks, likely a frightening sight for the oncoming train that barely missed a collision with the empty vehicle.

This was followed by what may have been the strangest development of the night -- a teen called police, admitted to stealing a car, and said he wanted to turn himself in. He was later released, so it's unclear if he is connected to the other crimes.

Investigators tell 11 News the events of those few hours are only the latest in a string of events dating back months and involving as many as 40 teens. We are working to get a comprehensive list of crimes this juvenile criminal ring is accused of, but are told by police the group has been stealing cars out of garages and in the last week have been escalating things by using those cars to smash into businesses and burglarize them. As recently as Monday morning, a Twins Liquor in the Briargate area, a Verizon store on North Union, a Walgreens on Rangewood Drive and a T-Mobile store on Union were hit in exactly that fashion.

11 News will update this story as new developments are released in the investigation.