MILLINOCKET, Maine — A weekend of surveillance apparently paid off for police when they arrested a W.T. Gardner & Sons worker who is accused of stealing diesel fuel from a company pump, Police Chief Donald Bolduc said Tuesday.
Kevin Langlais, 29, of Millinocket was charged Monday night with theft by unauthorized taking and then released on a promise to appear in court in Bangor on Nov. 9.
Bolduc said he himself saw a man later identified as Langlais attempt to steal the diesel fuel, which had an approximate value of $4,000, using a pickup truck and 55-gallon drums at about 5:25 p.m. Monday.
Langlais was on “a very short list” of suspects Gardner officials provided when they filed a complaint about missing and apparently stolen diesel fuel on Friday, Bolduc said.
“He had access to their diesel tank,” Bolduc said, explaining that the tank was within a gated complex at the Gardner hardwood chipping mill off Route 157 near Dolby. “He had the means to access the panel to turn on the diesel pump.”
Langlais was fired immediately after the arrest, Bolduc said.
Investigators suspect the thefts occurred over the last three weeks and totaled about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The investigation is continuing, Bolduc said.
Thomas Gardner, one of the owners of the company, described Langlais as a trusted employee of several years. Theft of diesel fuel, Gardner said, happens occasionally at Gardner, which also has facilities in Chester and Lincoln.
“In most cases the fuel consumption is well-documented. These were all locked items. Most people don’t have access to this,” Bolduc said of the fueling complex. “I don’t think it happens too often.”
The alleged theft was the first in several years, Gardner said.
“We generally see things like this when there’s a spike in fuel costs,” Gardner said.
Diesel fuel prices ranged from $3.79 to $4.19 per gallon across the state on Tuesday, according to MaineGasPrices.com.
Diesel fuel can be used to heat homes in place of No. 2 heating oil, Bolduc said.
The Gardner facility in Millinocket supplies paper and tissue mills around the state, including in Lincoln and Old Town, while generating about 300,000 tons of hardwood chips annually, Gardner said.
Gardner complimented police for responding quickly to his company’s complaint.