Truck breakdown foils would-be thief


A would-be thief who packed his truck full of $2,000 worth of stolen lumber at the Southeast Alaska State Fairgrounds tried to pass himself off as the organization’s maintenance man.

It didn’t work.

The 56-year-old resident left a handwritten note on his Ford pick-up’s window after the jam-packed truck broke down a few feet from where the lumber was taken.

“I’m the maintenance man and I’m playing Frisbee golf. Be back in an hour,” the note read.

Fair director Ross Silkman and assistant fair director Jessica Edwards were walking the grounds Friday afternoon when they saw the unoccupied truck near the horse stables, where panels used to enclose the ice rink were stored.

“We were doing just a walk around the property and we saw a truck back there fully loaded to the gills with the wood. Apparently someone tried to help themselves to the hockey boards that the hockey group uses to construct the arena,” Silkman said.

Silkman alerted Paul Wheeler, who had helped obtain and construct the panels several years ago for the Haines Amateur Hockey Association. Wheeler identified the hockey boards and interim police chief Simon Ford was called.

“(Wheeler) immediately saw what was going on, because he helped build all those things. He wasn’t real happy because that’s a lot of effort and expense that they went through to do something nice for the community so they can skate in the wintertime,” Ford said.

Wheeler said the panels are high-quality and valued at a little under $2,000. “They were just what you’d want for an outside hockey rink. They will withstand getting bumped into when they’re staked to the ground. They’re heavy,” he said.

Ford circled off the area with yellow crime tape and took pictures, which the would-be thief discovered after returning to the scene of the crime later on his bike. The man then rode to the police station and admitted he had intended to steal the wood and had lied in the note left on his truck.

 “He’s not the maintenance man; he has no connection to the fair. He just saw some wood and said, ‘That would look good out at my place.’ Apparently he’s got some building project going on,” Ford said.

Felony theft charges are pending, Ford said.

Silkman said the panels were recovered and can still be used, but will require some work before they can be reassembled properly.

The attempted theft is an unfortunate reminder of what can happen when someone takes advantage of the fair, which leaves its private grounds open to the public, Silkman said.  


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