A multiple-team effort has led to the apprehension of a theft and burglary suspect at the University of Utah.
In weeks prior, basketball and volleyball team officials had put their colleagues on alert for a man prowling the athletic department halls at odd hours, and on Tuesday, two basketball team managers pursued and detained a 46-year-old man until police arrived.
The Sandy man was charged Friday with felony theft and burglary after allegedly stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of items from the U.’s athletic department. Charging documents state that computers, monitors, projectors, iPads, backpacks, sports gear, clothing and shoes were swiped from the Huntsman Center.
Most items were issued to the athletic department and are not available for public purchase, the documents state.
The man was first noticed Sept. 14 by Phil Cullen, U. director of player development, who told police that he saw a man in the building after hours whom he did not recognize. Documents say another staff member took a photo of the man, who was wearing U. basketball team shoes that are not for sale to the public. The photo was circulated to other athletic department employees.
Then, on Sept. 29, Utah director of volleyball operations Daniel Jones told police that he was in his office when he heard something in the hallway and saw a man trying to unlock the office of head swimming and diving coach Joe Dykstra with a key. Jones confronted the man, who said that he had found some keys and was merely trying to return them to the coach.
Jones took the keys — which were later found to be Huntsman Center master keys, taken from the guest services office — and called police, but the man left before they arrived.
Two days later, basketball team managers Austin Desilva and Hans Steinbrenner saw the man and followed him into the Health, Physical Education and Recreation building. When he ran into a locker room to stow some items, Desilva and Steinbrenner detained him until police arrived.
University police searched the locker and found a computer belonging to another student, a projector, two basketballs, three pairs of shoes, an Ogio backpack, a hat, two pairs of socks, and a pair of gloves. The man denied possession of the items, but police said that they found the battery from the computer in the backpack he was carrying. Police also found a professor’s key that opens several doors in the David Eccles School of Business.
The man later told police that he found the items in the HPER complex and Huntsman Center and that the athletic clothing was given to him by former Utah Jazz player Paul Millsap — who, the charging documents state, does not have access to U. athletic department gear.
Detectives obtained a search warrant for the man’s motel room at Econo Lodge on North Temple and, according to the documents, found several more stolen items — an Ogio backpack with a computer and an MBA hat that belonged to the David Eccles School of Business and hard drives, flash drives, a camcorder, a calculator, backpacks, a softball bat and basketballs that belong to the athletic department.
Bail for the man, currently in the Salt Lake County Jail, was set at $25,000. Athletic department and police officials could not immediately be reached Saturday morning.
It was the second case of crime fighting by the U.’s basketball team in a week. On Sept. 28, basketball head coach Larry Krystkowiak chased down an apparent bike thief outside the Huntsman Center and forced him to sit on the sidewalk. Police found five stolen phones in the man’s backpack.
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