Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Employee accused of worksite thefts

Daily Inter Lake | November 9, 2021 7:00 AM

An employee of a Helena-based homebuilder faces a felony charge in Lincoln County District Court for allegedly stealing thousands of dollars worth of equipment in 2021.

Tylin Weber pleaded not guilty to the single felony count of theft during his Oct. 25 arraignment. He is expected back in district court Jan. 3 for an omnibus hearing with a pretrial conference to follow on Feb. 7.

The thefts came to the attention of local authorities in late May. A property owner in the Eureka area told Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Robert Salyer that two combination locks and a miter saw were stolen from his land, where he was having a home built. He told investigators that his general contractor also reported items going missing from the jobsite during the night.

On May 29, Deputy Andrew Smith met with the contractor, who confirmed the thefts, but said he needed time to compile a complete inventory. To start, a work light, grinder, drill, a reciprocating saw and three impact drills had vanished, court documents said. All of the missing items were left in an unfinished second-story bathroom.

Authorities still had no leads as of Aug. 30, according to an affidavit written by Sgt. Bo Pitman of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. A day later, though, the homebuilder and his wife told investigators that another $1,367 in tools was stolen from a second jobsite in Eureka. In an affidavit, Pitman wrote that the couple now suspected an employee: Weber.

According to court documents, Weber was hired on pre-release while serving a 10-year sentence for burglary out of Silver Bow County. He was one of two employees to work both jobsites.

Based on the tip, authorities looked up Weber in a law enforcement database that monitors pawn shop deals. They found that Weber had pawned 63 items at five shops — mostly in Helena and Kalispell — beginning in February. He earned $2,465 on the sales, court documents said.

Cordless DeWalt tools comprised the bulk of the pawned items, Pitman wrote. At least 17 matched items the homebuilder reported as missing. Of those, the bulk was pawned in Kalispell while Weber worked in Eureka, court documents said.

As authorities investigated Weber, the homebuilder provided a receipt for one of the missing items: a Garmin Rino 755t GPS radio with an extra battery and charger. Looking it up, investigators saw that Weber had pawned an exact match on Feb. 28, later redeeming it. He pawned it again April 3, this time never returning for the item.

Theft carries a maximum punishment of 10 years with the Montana State Prison and a $10,000 fine. Were the case to go to trial, it would begin March 15.