Cop charged with stealing drinks from co-workers

February 23, 2012 7:23:33 AM PST
It's something that happens at some workplaces -- items suddenly come up missing from the company fridge. But it has happened so often at the Deer Park Police Department that they decided to watch the refrigerator with a surveillance camera. And now a police officer faces charges.

The police chief told us someone had been stealing lunches, drinks, even 60 pounds of deer sausage out of the break room fridge for about a year and police employees were pretty mad. So, the chief authorized a sting operation on the refrigerator.

According to Deer Park police, on November 19 last year Officer Kevin Yang was caught on video taking an unopened Monster energy drink out of the break room refrigerator. That drink was marked with 'MSA', a detective's initials. Yang told investigators he took it upon himself to keep the fridge clean.

"A lot of times we clean up the community refrigerator like once a week, everything take by Friday or certain date or everything gets thrown out, which we don't do here," explained Officer Yang.

But Deer Park police say it happened again and again. Officer Yang was reportedly caught again November 22 taking a bag from a local sandwich shop marked with a detective's initials. Then, on November 26, Officer Yang is seen taking a Monster drink and on November 27, he takes another drink, once again marked with initials.

The police chief authorized the video sting because he says the thefts had gone on for a while.

Deer Park Police Chief Greg Griggs said, "The conversations in the hallways and briefings and people's frustrations and aggravation with that occurring did not deter the events. In fact, they increased."

So investigators set up a hidden camera and put Monster energy drinks and some food in the fridge and waited.

"The same officer was taking the items each time," Chief Griggs said. "Nobody else was taking it during that three week period."

Officer Yang began a 30-day unpaid suspension on Tuesday and is facing misdemeanor theft charges now.

The chief says no matter what's stolen or where, theft is theft.

He said, "When you're not putting anything in and you're taking things out, it became clear to us he was taking things knowingly and against the law."

Officer Yang will be reinstated from his 30-day suspension March 22. Even if he is convicted of the misdemeanor theft charge, he will be able to return to the job, because it's not a class B or above offense.

We worked on the story with the help of our friends at Houston Community Newspapers and the Deer Park Broadcaster.

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