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Published June 13 2012

Charges linked to thefts from Fargo police cruiser; suspect reportedly taunted police on radio

FARGO – Charges have been filed against two men in connection with an April incident in which a bulletproof vest, handcuffs and other equipment were stolen from a Fargo police officer’s unmarked, unlocked police vehicle.

Kody Jerome Thronson, 19, of Dilworth was charged Tuesday in Cass County District Court with three counts of conspiracy to commit unlawful entry into a vehicle, a Class C felony.

Casey Jordan Gillette, 18, of Moorhead faces two counts of the same charge.

As a result of the incident, Officer Bret Witte received a letter of reprimand for leaving valuable items in a car and leaving the car unlocked, Fargo police spokesman Lt. Joel Vettel has said.

Vettel said the items stolen from Witte’s car on the night of April 10-11 included the vest and handcuffs, a Taser, a knife, a handheld police radio and two loaded ammunition clips for a handgun.

As previously reported in The Forum, one pair of handcuffs was recovered the next day in Moorhead when a man called dispatchers to say he needed help getting out of them.

According to a police report filed with the charges Tuesday:

The man in the cuffs, 19-year-old Joseph Tolzmann, and another man, Derek Dahl, told Moorhead police that they were in Tolzmann’s vehicle the night before with Gillette and Thronson, and that the two men were “car hopping” and took the vest from Witte’s vehicle.

Tolzmann said that as they drove back into Moorhead, Thronson said into the digital police radio “(Expletive) the police,” according to the report, which notes the number came up through dispatch as Witte’s radio.

The radio was thrown out of the vehicle into the Red River as they crossed the bridge, Tolzmann said.

Tolzmann told police they went to his residence, where they played with the vest, posing and taking pictures with it.

The vest and its contents were no longer in the residence when Moorhead police served a search warrant there on April 12.

Gillette was later arrested for allegedly breaking into vehicles in a Fargo neighborhood where he was staying. In tape-recorded interviews with police, he denied being present when the vest was stolen, though he admitted to putting the cuffs on Tolzmann. He said it was Thronson who stole the vest, the report says.

During the investigation, Fargo Police Detective Paul Holte had Gillette place a phone call to Thronson. After they talked for a while, Holte got on the phone and talked to Thronson, telling him he was a drug mover from California who had $1,500 in cash and was interested in buying the vest.

Thronson told him he no longer had the vest and couldn’t get it anymore, the report says.

Gillette told police he believed the vest was taken out and burned in the Detroit Lakes, Minn., or Frazee, Minn., area, the report says.

The other conspiracy counts against Gillette and Thronson stem from the theft of a GPS device from one vehicle and a DVD player from another vehicle. Thronson is alleged to have acted alone in the latter incident.

Holte noted that there were eight to 10 other vehicles broken into on the same night and in the same area where Witte’s vehicle was parked.