By Maggie Callaghan, Senior Staff Writer
The Butler County Sheriff’s Office arrested two men last Thursday in connection with a reported theft at Miami University’s Cole Service Building, which occurred over the weekend of March 25.
David Hoelle, 43, and Christopher Lake, 45, of Darrtown, Ohio were arrested for receiving stolen property on Thursday, March 31 after the Butler County Sheriff Department recovered some of Miami’s reported stolen items, including a pickup truck and two leaf blowers, at the property of 4025 Darrtown Road.
The Butler County Undercover Narcotics team also discovered the remains of methamphetamine lab at the scene, according to a press release by the Butler County Sheriff’s office.
According to Lieutenant Jim Bechtolt of Miami University Police, who is investigating the incident, neither of the men have any connection to Miami University.
An incident report was filed the morning of March 28 after Miami’s Physical Facilities staff reported to work and found that some of their equipment was missing. MUPD could not specify the property stolen because the investigation is ongoing.
According to Bechtolt, all three motor vehicles have been recovered. Along with the property in Darrtown, one vehicle was recovered at an apartment complex in Hamilton, Ohio and another was found abandoned in Riley Township, Ohio, approximately two hours away from Miami’s Oxford campus.
“The likely scenario is that those who stole these items knew that multiple [police] agencies were looking so they left them in different places,” said Bechtolt.
Tools were also reported missing from Cole Service Building, but those have yet to be recovered. Cody Powell, associate vice president of facility planning and operations, explained that those tools were stored inside the building at the time.
According to Bechtolt, no staff were working in the building at the time, although there were Physical Facilities staff working on campus that weekend. However, he explained that as the Cole Service Building has many adjacent storage buildings, it would be difficult for staff to monitor those buildings.
“They would have no idea what would go on in the other buildings,” Bechtolt said.
The building is equipped with security cameras; however, Powell said all property was stolen in areas where there are no security cameras.
Cole Service Building, located across from the equestrian center, serves as a storage and working facility for the Physical Facilities department, which is responsible for maintenance and operations on Miami’s Oxford and regional campuses. According to Powell, Miami owns approximately 30 motor vehicles which are parked at the Cole Service Building.
Powell, who has worked in the building for over 20 years, said equipment has gone missing before, but never to this extent.
“Our folks take a lot of pride in their work, any time things like this happen it’s upsetting,” Powell said.