2018-10-21 / Police Beat

Imlay City Police recover tools stolen from local company

BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

IMLAY CITY — The Imlay City Police Dept. recovered nearly $100,000 worth of tools stolen from a shop on the city’s south side last month, but the company owner says the Lapeer County Prosecutor’s Office has dropped the ball on the case.

John Murphy, owner of Venture Global Engineering, said after one of his vendors spotted some specialized CNC bits that the vendor had made for Murphy’s company for sale online, Imlay City Police Dept. Officer Mike Scigel was able to trace the website offering the tools back to a 10-year Venture employee and his son.

Scigel, said Murphy, “did one hell of a job.”

However, he added, he thinks the “prosecuting attorney is dropping the ball.”

Murphy said the Imlay City Police Dept., backed up by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Dept. raided his former employee’s Romeoarea home Sept. 25. He said as of Thursday (Oct. 18) formal charges hadn’t been filed

Lapeer County Prosecutor Michael Sharkey said his office received the Imlay City Police Dept.’s warrant request the first of the month and asked the department for additional information.

“The warrant request is still being reviewed and a decision is anticipated early next week,” Sharkey said. “We do our best to carefully review the evidence presented to determine whether a crime has been committed, and if so, what criminal charges to authorize. This review must be thorough to ensure that the rights of all persons involved are protected and the integrity of the system is preserved. The safety of the public depends on it.”

Murphy said police returned five car loads worth of items to his shop. He said purchase orders for the returned items added up to $97,000. Murphy said his former supervisor admitted to police that he’d already sold somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 worth of items on his website.

The recovered items, Murphy said, are still sitting in his conference room. Some of the recovered items were specialized parts for custom jobs that Murphy doesn’t know if he’ll be able to use.

Murphy said he’s heard his former employee already has a new job.

Murphy said his employees began noticing things — personal tools and materials — going missing about 17 months ago. He recently he purchased $8,000 worth of specialized carbide cutters only to have them disappear two days later. Murphy said those cutters caught the eye of the vendor he got them from.

Murphy said it appears his former employee, who doesn’t drive, and the man’s son, were coming into the shop after the night shift and hauling off tools, cameras and specialized sensors and then selling them on a website that accepted PayPal and credit card payments.

“I want them prosecuted to the max. I want to send a message,” said Murphy, who owns shops in Lapeer and Macomb County. Murphy said he believes the Lapeer County Prosecutors Office is going to plea bargain charges for the former employee down to larceny of a building and not pursue charges against the man’s son.

“I don’t understand it one bit,” Murphy said.

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