BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)- After 10 days on the run, the sex offender who escaped from the Jefferson County Jail was captured Thursday morning in Boulder as SWAT teams prepared to arrest him.
Travis Sandlin, 32, escaped from Jefferson County Jail about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 5 by climbing out a small gap of fencing and dropping onto a roof. He is the first inmate to break out of the jail in its 27-year history.
Sheriff Ted Mink said they had received tips that Sandlin was staying in a vacant home that was for sale in the 3900 block of Sunshine Canyon in Boulder.
"The home was vacant. It was a home that was for sale," said Mink. "It's a vacant house. There is nothing in there. Why he selected that house is not known yet."
Investigators confirmed that Sandlin was staying there and authorities from Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Boulder County Sheriff's Office collaborated to make an arrest Thursday morning.
While SWAT teams were setting up outside the home, Sandlin got into a stolen vehicle and tried to drive away by backing out of the driveway that was on very steep terrain.
"Once he backed out of the driveway he saw the staging of the officers outside Sunshine Canyon and that's when he rammed the bearcat," said Mink.
Sandlin went past the bearcat, which is an armored vehicle used by SWAT teams, and kept driving down the road. He tried to get up a another driveway about a mile away but rolled the vehicle on the steep embankment.
After Sandlin crashed, officers took him into custody without incident at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and took him to Boulder County Hospital for treatment of his injuries suffered in the rollover. Law enforcement said they believe Sandlin was taking drugs, including methamphetamine, during his time on the lam.
Since his escape, investigators said he had been stealing cars and credit cards in the Denver metro area. Mink confirmed that Sandlin had stolen six cars from several communities including Lakewood, Evergreen, Golden, Douglas County and Arvada.
"He always looked for open garage doors or vehicles that had the keys in them," said Mink. "That was his M.O. when selecting those vehicles."
Mink said that Sandlin was spotted at a gas station along Wadsworth Boulevard on Wednesday around lunch time. He took off, leading police on a high-speed chase northbound from Lakewood into Wheat Ridge. At one point, Sandlin reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour but police did not capture him.
"They backed off when he started driving in a dangerous fashion," said Mink. "The pursuit only lasted a few seconds before Lakewood called it off."
Sandlin was previously facing a drug, weapons, burglary and car theft charges. He has a long rap sheet that goes back 15 years that includes burglary, car theft and fraud. He was also required to register as a sex offender after a Peeping Tom incident in 2003.
Mink said he will be facing several additional charges after his capture that include auto theft and eluding.
After he is released from the hospital, Sandlin will be kept in a special housing unit in Jefferson County.
"There is very, very tight security and no contact with other inmates in the housing unit," said Mink.
CBS4 spoke with Sandlin's sister, who said she's grateful he wasn't seriously injured and that the situation didn't end in a shootout.
Mink said that earlier this summer there were some weaknesses identified in the wire meshing in the recreation yard from which Sandlin eventually escaped.
"We did contract with a company to secure those wells. Unfortunately the place where he escaped from was not done to specifications. He apparently noticed that and over a period of days started working those wells loose to a point where he could slip through," said Mink. "We will be adding some extra security measures on those outdoor recreation yards to ensure this doesn't happen in the future."
The sheriff's department said a lawsuit against the contractor is possible.
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