Friday, February 16, 2007

Man accused of possessing missing Pipeco property

Suspect faces charge of grand theft by possession

Express Staff Writer

An investigation into the whereabouts of $25,000 worth of inventory that was stolen from a Ketchum business has led to the arrest of a former employee.

Francisco Hurtato Jr., a 35-year-old Lincoln County resident, faces a felony charge of grand theft by possession of stolen property for allegedly having the missing goods in his custody. He is accused of possessing stolen sprinklers, piping and miscellaneous parts that were taken from Pipeco between May and October of 2006.

"We don't know that he stole it. We just know that he had possession of it," Ketchum Police Department spokeswoman Kim Rogers said Thursday.

Rogers said Hurtato was employed at Pipeco when the items were taken.

Hurtato was arrested at his home on Tuesday, Feb. 13, by Lincoln County sheriff's deputies with the assistance of Ketchum police. Rogers said the missing items were discovered after a search warrant was issued for Hurtato's residence.

He was transported to the Gooding County Jail, which houses prisoners for Lincoln County. Jail personnel reported on Thursday that Hurtato has been released on bond and will be arraigned on the charge in Shoshone.

The arrest followed an investigation by Ketchum police detectives after Pipeco management reported on Feb. 7 that the items were discovered missing during an annual inventory check in January.

Pipeco, located at 210 Lewis St. in Ketchum, specializes in sprinkler systems, water fountains, ponds, landscaping and outdoor lighting.

Rogers said Hurtato will be charged in Lincoln County because the missing goods were found there.

Grand theft by possession of stolen property is punishable in Idaho by a maximum $5,000 fine and 14 years in prison.

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