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Suspect arrested in theft of $400K in art

Brandon Camacho-Levine was arrested in Lakewood on suspicion of charges including felony theft and drug distribution/manufacturing, Boulder Police said.

BOULDER, Colo. — A suspect was arrested in connection to more than $400,000 in artwork stolen last month, Boulder Police said Monday.

Investigators learned Saturday that the artwork, which was stolen from a truck outside a hotel in Boulder on Dec. 14, was at a hotel in Lakewood.

With help from the Lakewood Police Department, officers searched the hotel room and arrested Brandon Camacho-Levine, 31.

Inside the room, officers recovered all of the stolen artwork and other stolen items, including handguns and electronics, police said. Officers also recovered drugs, including nearly 2,000 fentanyl pills and 23 grams of methamphetamine.

"We see it all of the time," Boulder Police Deputy Chief Stephen Redfearn said. "One instance starts with one crime and it just leads into other things. Most criminals aren’t just involved with one type of criminal behavior." 

Credit: Boulder Police

The Boulder Police Department had asked for the public's help in finding the stolen artwork. Employees of a company transporting the artwork across the country stayed that night at a hotel in the 5300 block of South Boulder Road, police said.

The next morning, they found that someone had cut the padlock on the truck and had stolen five pieces of art and tools. Police said there were other pieces of art on the truck that were not stolen.

Police said the art had come from Los Angeles and was being delivered to locations in Colorado and New Mexico.

A witness told police Camacho-Levine agreed to sell him the art for $6,000, and paid a first installment of $1,000 in Bitcoin, the arrest affidavit says.

"The information was that the stolen art was in Lakewood," Redfearn said. "We had some other information about some other criminal stuff going on. We’re not really even sure if the person understood the value of what they’d stolen."

According to the arrest affidavit, Camacho-Levine told the witness he did not know the paintings were in the truck and "stumbled upon them." He said he also stole tools out of the truck and "initially thought they were the most valuable thing in the truck." 

He also described other crates and items in the back of the truck the witness believed to be other high-end art, the affidavit says.

Colleen Fanning, the art advisor to the people who bought the paintings, described the moment she found out the art had been recovered.

"I was dancing around," Fanning said. "We were making dinner, and it became a dance party."

As soon as the art was stolen, Fanning started reaching out to auction houses across the country. Galleries helped get the word out that these works were stolen and should not be sold if they made their way to an auction floor.

"We needed to get the images out to all of the auction houses, large and small, across the country," Fanning said. "Everybody was aware, do not touch these paintings."

The general manager for the company transporting the artwork said the company truck was getting work done, so they were using a "loaner" truck. The truck did not have any markings on it, and he believed it was a crime of opportunity and not a targeted theft, the affidavit says.

When the witness was asked why he decided to call the police after already spending $1,000 of his own money, he explained that he 'regularly 'wastes' $1,000 a day on 'dumb [s***]' and that 'he just wanted to 'do the right thing,' and that he did not care about the $1,000," according to the affidavit.

Camacho-Levine faces the following charges:

  • Two counts of theft ($100,000-$1,000,000)
  • Four counts of drug distribution/manufacturing
  • Two counts of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon
  • First-degree vehicle trespass
  • Two counts of theft ($300-$999)
  • Possession of burglary tools
  • Three counts of failure to appear
  • Special drug offender (Distributing drugs while in possession of a firearm)

His bond was set at $100,000 with no cash option.

Credit: Boulder Police
Credit: Boulder Police
Credit: Boulder Police


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