(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Over the past 23 years, Ranch Foods Direct has served the Southern Colorado community making quality meat available for purchase at two different locations.

“We just do everything to make meat as good as it can,” Ranch Foods Direct Owner, Mike Callicrate, said. “And so once a customer starts buying from us, it’s quite an experience because it’s so much better than what you can get at other places like the big box stores.”

The owner recalls challenging times the business has faced like the coronavirus pandemic, but recent events are raising concerns for the safety and well-being of staff.

“Well, at both locations, we’ve had some serious vandalism problems at the Fillmore location,” Callicrate said. “We’ve had rocks thrown through the windows, not only through the windows but through the glass cases as well, breaking doors in coolers.”

The vandalism is a problem at both of the business’ locations but that is not the only incident that has occurred on the business premises.

“And then here at Town Center, we had a car that was burned in our parking lot, somebody set it on fire,” Callicrate said. “That was in February of this year and most recently we had a vandal come in and steal the copper, cut it, cut our compressors off from our internal cooling system, and basically shut us down.”

Photo shows car burned in the parking lot, Courtesy: Ranch Foods Direct

Callicrate explained that if this had happened in hotter months this would have caused major problems in refrigerating the product.

“Thankfully, it wasn’t August and 100 degrees outside,” Callicrate said. “We were able to salvage and thankfully we have a local HVC guy that came right in and got… things hooked back up again…. we’ve got over $1,000,000 worth of inventory in this building.”

Photo is of the outside of the building, where copper piping was stolen, Courtesy: Ranch Foods Direct

A major problem Callicrate said is how the business located at Town Center Drive is near a homeless encampment.

“This is critical, this is a critical business, and we shouldn’t be under attack by vandals,” Callicrate said. “But much of the source of the problem here at Town Center Drive is this homeless encampment, which is right here on the corner.”

Callicrate is seeking the help of law enforcement in addressing the homeless issue in the city and helping protect his business.

Photo is of the homeless camp that Callicrate referenced, located off Town Center Drive

“We caught the guy that cut our pipes back here up at the storage unit and the police were called and nothing was done and so we need more action around arresting the people that are vandalizing,” said Callicrate. “And we just need to control this homeless issue where people are just living over here as a base and then at night, you know, robbing from businesses.”

Colorado Springs Police Department shared a response to the incidents at both of the Ranch Foods Direct locations.

We can sympathize with the Ranch Food owners regarding the incidents that have occurred on or near their properties. However, by their own admission, one of the suspects was charged. The Colorado Springs Police Department must adhere to legal rules including reasonable suspicion and probable cause to make arrests. Once arrests are made when charges, what charges meet the standards set forth in state statute. Those standards are then weighed against the available evidence to actually bring forth charges. Just because someone was in the area when an incident occurs does not necessarily mean we can prove or connect that person to the crime. We may suspect they are, but without evidence such as an eyewitness or video surveillance that is very difficult to do. 

In regard to the suspect laying in the roadway and obstructing traffic, the officer did make contact with them, and they would have been cited and released with a traffic citation for obstructing the roadway. The property damage that was done to the Ranch Foods on Fillmore was investigated and numerous businesses in the area queried for surveillance video. None of the businesses around there were able to provide surveillance video to identify a suspect committing the crime. Again, probable cause and evidence come into play on making an arrest. This case is still an open case, pending more information or evidence.

The incident at the Ranch Foods other location in Town Center was investigated and yes there is surveillance video. However, like much surveillance video out there the quality is not always of the best quality. However, the investigating officer did distribute images of the suspect to attempt to identify that suspect. In both cases, they impact the same business but in two different investigative divisions, and they appear to be unrelated. We continue to investigate these crimes and work closely with all our community members to reduce crime in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs Police Department

When looking to the future, Callicrate hopes to have support after these incidents and a more responsive city.

“We need better leadership. It took a very long time to get any response from… City Council,” Callicrate said. “It just appears to me that this city cares a lot more about national chains and franchises than they do about local businesses, that’s wrong.”