Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bounty Hunters Dogged By Image of Glamour Job

Leather jackets, long hair, a fleet of SUVs and a film crew are not standard gear for local bounty hunters.

But if your name is Duane “Dog” Chapman and you are the star of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” on A&E, then by all means bring the bling and let the cameras roll.

By contrast, local bondsmen — and women — say they try to remain as inconspicuous as possible. Some are upset Chapman has landed in western Colorado, while others are a bit more appreciative, even lending the Dog a helping hand.

“I think he is glamorizing this like it is a fun job,” said Fred Schultz, 51, of AKA Bail Bonds in Rifle. “In all the time I have been bounty hunting and bail bonding, I have had one fight. It wasn’t all this drama. It is like he is the Jerry Springer of bounty hunting.”

Alma Krabbe, 54, owner of Mr. C’s Bail Bonds, said Dog making headlines in the local press is making her life more dangerous.

“It is putting us all at risk because (wanted people) are all in hiding,” Krabbe said. “Now they are just scared, so now we are going to have problems. He is going to come in and do his little thing and just leave, and we are going to be stuck with a big mess. A lot of (local fugitives) are leaving the state because he, the Dog, needs to find them for his show.”

There is some question as to whether Chapman and his posse are still in town, or even in the state.

“To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Chapman left Mesa County shortly after he left the Justice Center (Wednesday),” Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said. “I don’t think Mr. Chapman is here, and I don’t think he is looking for anybody in this county.”

At least two local bounty hunters said they have been in communication with Dog and his associates Friday.

“It is my man that he is looking for,” said Dean Hergenrader, 38, owner of AA Bail Bonds in Montrose and Bail-Ya Bail Bonds in Grand Junction. “He missed court, I’m guessing approximately 100 days ago. I don’t remember the charges.”

Hergenrader said he dropped off paperwork Friday with one of Dog’s associates on his bail jumper, for whom he posted a $40,000-plus bond.

Now Hergenrader is on the hook for that amount. If his insurance company pays off the bond, it could come after him for compensation, he said.

That’s the nature of the beast. Bondsmen can charge customers up to 15 percent of their bond, but to make money, those people have to show up in court. So, to be a successful bondsman, it pays to get as much information on clients as possible before posting bond, said Nancee White, 47, owner of Extreme and Goods Bail Bonds.

“I can usually tell when a person is going to take off just by their handwriting,” she said.

If the people are evasive and offer little personal information on their bond application, that’s a good indication they may jump bail, White said. When that happens, she has a deep-rooted network, like any good bondsman, to ferret out leads on peoples’ whereabouts.

Dog knows this and that’s why he’s been in touch with White, she said.

“I’ve been speaking with Dog. I’ve been on the phone with him all morning,” White said Friday. “He knows he can not infiltrate this area without local help.”

Dog has a standing offer to pick up, for free, anyone a local bondsman is having trouble apprehending, White said.

“My feeling is that they are out of episodes, and that is why they are here,” she said. “Why else would they be out here?”

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