Teacher suspected of stealing $75,000 backhoe | SteamboatToday.com

Teacher suspected of stealing $75,000 backhoe

— A Steamboat Springs High School teacher who was arrested Thursday denies stealing a $75,000 backhoe that was reported stolen Wednesday.

“It’s very concerning to me,” said 43-year-old Dustin Dike, who teaches industrial arts. “I have no idea what is going on.”

Dike then contacted his attorney to issue a statement.

Dike was arrested on suspicion of felony theft.

The orange backhoe belongs to Yampa Valley Electric Association and was being used at a job site near Little Toots Park. The key had been left in the engine compartment.

A YVEA supervisor noticed the Kubota backhoe missing Wednesday morning and reported it missing later that day after an exhaustive search, according to Dike’s arrest affidavit.

Officers learned about something suspicious that occurred the night the backhoe was taken.

A detective saw a truck being driven without its lights on through downtown alleys. The truck was hauling an orange backhoe on a trailer.

The detective thought it was suspicious and ran the license plate. It came back to Dike.

After the backhoe was reported stolen, officers went to Dike’s home and found a yellow and black skid steer in the driveway.

Officers then drove around the city looking for the missing backhoe.

A YVEA employee then reported finding the backhoe on a driveway off River Road.

Inside the backhoe, officers found a note explaining why the backhoe was parked there. It included a phone number and a signature from “Bob.” Officers called the phone number and learned it belonged to Dike’s mother, according to the arrest affidavit.

Police went to Dike’s house Thursday morning.

Dike told officers he was unaware of the stolen backhoe.

Dike was arrested and released the same day after being issued a personal recognizance bond.

Dike’s attorney, Eric Fenster, said in an email he was investigating the “unusual facts of this case” and that the arrest affidavit seemed to raise more questions than answers.

“I’m not convinced at all that a criminal act was responsible for this equipment being misplaced, and the connection to Mr. Dike seems particularly tenuous,” Fenster said. “Regardless, Mr. Dike has fully cooperated with the police and answered every question. No stolen property was found in his possession.”

Fenster said he was sure the investigation would uncover the facts responsible for why the backhoe was not where it was expected to be for that period of time.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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