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Car theft suspects appear in Montezuma and La Plata courts

James J. Ripinski and Courtnie A. Lykans (Courtesy Montezuma County Sheriff's Office)
Couple led law enforcement agencies on chase from New Mexico to Mancos

An Ohio couple arrested Saturday for separate car thefts and eluding police in New Mexico and Colorado appeared in Montezuma and La Plata County courts Monday.

James Ripinski, 42, was arrested by police about 2:24 p.m. near Mancos, according to an arrest affidavit. He allegedly drove a stolen 2005 Honda Pilot and was being pursued by law enforcement officers then parked it at a residence on Grand Avenue and fled on foot.

Ripinski was charged with suspicion of aggravated motor vehicle theft, criminal possession of a bank financial device, reckless driving and resisting arrest.

During a hearing Monday in Montezuma County Court, Ripinski’s bond was set at $25,000 by County Judge JenniLynn Lawrence. The case is set for filing of charges on June 16.

James J. Ripinski in 2021. (Stark County Jail)
Courtnie Ann Lykans in 2021. (Stark County Jail)

Courtnie Ann Lykans, 32, was pulled over and arrested about noon by the Colorado State Patrol on La Plata County Road 105 while driving a stolen blue Honda CRV with New Mexico plates, according to a State Patrol affidavit.

She was charged with suspicion of motor vehicle theft and eluding police.

During a hearing Monday in La Plata County Court, Lykans’ bond was set at $10,000 by Magistrate Sarah Law. The case is set for filing of charges on June 17.

The arrest affidavits detail how multiple law enforcement agencies and dispatchers coordinated the pursuit and arrest of Ripinski and Lykans, who split up mid-chase, allegedly stole a second vehicle and fled in separate directions.

According to La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith, the pursuit initially began before noon when the couple allegedly fled officers during a traffic stop in San Juan County, New Mexico.

Jun 5, 2022
Man arrested after pursuit from New Mexico to Mancos

The Colorado State Patrol was notified that a stolen Honda Pilot had entered Colorado at the La Plata Highway (Colorado Highway 140) and was being followed by a La Plata County sheriff’s deputy. A Colorado State Patrol Trooper set up spike strips at mile marker 15.

Durango dispatch informed police that the Honda Pilot pulled up to a residence on the highway at mile marker 8, and a woman, later identified as Lykans, exited the Pilot and drove off in a blue Honda CRV that was later reported stolen.

The suspects continued north on the La Plata Highway in the two vehicles.

A La Plata County deputy attempted a traffic stop of the Honda Pilot, and the driver, later identified as Ripinski, turned around and fled back toward New Mexico.

Meanwhile, Lykans, driving the blue Honda CRV, turned onto La Plata County Road 105 and was being followed by the vehicle’s owner, according to the affidavit.

A state trooper attempted to pull her over, using a siren and emergency lights.

“The driver continued to look at me in the mirror, but refused to stop,” the affidavit states.

After the trooper repeatedly used a loudspeaker to tell her to pull over, Lykans complied. The trooper drew his handgun and instructed her to exit the vehicle. She complied, and was arrested.

The Honda CRV was returned to its owner.

Ripinski, meanwhile, fled toward Mancos.

According to Mancos Marshal Sgt. Brad Ray, about 2:24 p.m., Ripinski attempted to elude a traffic stop while driving west on U.S. Highway 160 east of Mancos.

He then reportedly turned north into the parking lot of the Miss Kitty’s Country Inn in Mancos. Ray followed him, and Ripinski returned to the highway and drove west toward Mesa Verde National Park. He then turned around and headed east, driving over the speed limit, Ray stated.

“The vehicle and suspect reentered Mancos and traveled several streets,” the affidavit states. “The suspect failed to stop at Main and Grand and proceeded south. The suspect nearly struck a white Suburban at the intersection of (County Road) J and South Main.”

Ripinski drove into a driveway on East Grand Avenue, left the vehicle and ran behind the residence. A search ensued that included officers from Montezuma County, Mancos, Cortez and La Plata County.

Ripinski was seen walking on County Road 42.5, and initially failed to comply with police commands to stop before being arrested near an irrigation ditch, according to the affidavit. He was arrested about 4:25 p.m.

He possessed a bank card that did not belong to him, the report states.

Ripinski had warrants out for his arrest in Ohio for possession of dangerous drugs and failure to appear in court, Ray said. Officers believe these factors played a role in Ripinski’s decision to flee. He also has a history in Ohio of fleeing officers.

Lykans has a restraining order against Ripinski.

Lykans was accused in January 2021 of leading police in Massillon, Ohio, on a chase. She was arrested when the damaged car become disabled, according to The Repository newspaper. Illicit drugs were found in the vehicle, and Ripinski was her passenger.

During Saturday’s search, Ray told The Journal, he requested a Nixle alert advising residents about the incident. At 4:54 p.m., a Nixle alert advised that the incident had been resolved, and “residents do not have to shelter in place any longer.”