A break-in at Las Animas City Hall forced the closure of the building to employees and the general public Wednesday, the city announced on its Facebook page, and customer service staff will be relocating to the Bent County Development Foundation offices Thursday.
The break-in was discovered Wednesday morning, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation was summoned to the scene to investigate, resulting in closure of the building to the public and staff.
The nearby U.S. Soil and Conservation District Office was also broken into Christmas Eve, said Sheriff David Encinias, who added that he's contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding that break-in due to the agency being part of the federal government.
A local laundromat was broken into earlier in the week, said Encinias.
Initially, Las Animas residents were advised to use the online system to pay their utility bills during the closure of City Hall, but it soon became apparent that the system was not working properly due to disconnection of the internet during the break-in.
Once the router room was cleared by the evidence team, the router was reconnected and the online payments option became available again. Residents were advised, however, that the Bent County Development Foundation office, 332 Ambassador Thompson Blvd., would serve as the walk-in bill pay and other customer services location while the investigation continues and City Hall remains closed to the general public.
"Your patience is appreciated and any information related to this crime and others recently committed in Las Animas are welcome to be provided to the BCSO," the city said on its Facebook page.
"As your Mayor, I am asking you all for the utmost in forethought before sharing any information that hasn't been cleared by the joint investigative services, either personally or in digital form," said Jim Collins. "This situation is obviously stressful for the staff and community, but please express and demonstrate sensitivity and understanding that we are working intently to make the community as safe as possible."