Colorado man used torch to steal cash from camping fee boxes

A Colorado man used torches to compromise locks on camping fee boxes and steal money from federal and state forest agencies, according to prosecutors.

Jayce Peterson, 36, of Oak Creek, was sentenced Thursday to 15 months in federal prison for theft and depredation of government property, according to the U.S. Attorneys’ Office, District of Colorado.

Between July and October of 2018, “Peterson used an oxy-acetylene torch to cut locks off of metal fee tubes used at recreation areas throughout Northwestern Colorado,” according to a news release. He damaged tubes, about $39,000 worth, on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife.

Peterson typically struck at night, using a tarp to conceal the bright light of his torch work, according to the release. He also stole surveillance cameras from location.

“Stealing user fees and damaging government property in recreation areas hurts everyone who enjoys our wild areas,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn, in the release. “Coloradans can be confident that this office, together with our law enforcement partners, will protect our public lands to make sure they are kept pristine and beautiful for generations to come.”

Peterson’s prison sentence will be followed by two years of supervised release.

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