D.A.: Ex-worker stole first-responder gear

A former employee of a respected Chester County business is accused of stealing more than $195,000 worth of merchandise from the company, Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan announced in a press release.

Thomas Wessells

Thomas Wessells

Thomas Wessells, 55, formerly of New Castle, De., allegedly stole from the Witmer Public Safety Group in Sadsbury Township, where he worked as the director of order fulfillment. The Witmer Public Safety Group sells police and fire supplies to first responders in the region. It also serves as a key sponsor of “Shop with a Cop,” a popular Christmas program for underprivileged children that has served as a regional model.

Wessells, who now resides in Waterford, N.Y., used his position to steal products from the Witmer Public Safety Group and sell them on eBay during his eight years with the company, the release said.  The thefts came to light after the defendant was terminated in January 2014 for viewing pornography on a company computer and violating the company’s sexual harassment policy, according to Wessells' criminal complaint.

“It always comes as a shock to find out that one of your own employees has been stealing from you,” Hogan wrote in the release.  “Businesses know how to protect themselves from armed robbers, burglars, hackers, and other outside threats.  However, a business is often most vulnerable to fraud conducted by a trusted insider like the defendant here.  At the end of the day, these defendants are always betrayed by their own greed and stupidity.”

During the course of Wessells’ termination, the company reviewed his computer usage, discovering suspicious activity and alerted police, according to the complaint.

The Chester County Detectives conducted interviews, reviewed account information, conducted a forensic review of electronic data, examined financial transactions, and engaged in other investigative techniques.  The detectives discovered that the defendant was stealing products, such as police rifle scopes and firefighter helmet lights, and selling them on eBay, the complaint said.

The detectives traced more than 2,000 unauthorized eBay sales of $196,115.39 to Wessels, who did not list them as income on his tax return, according to the complaint.

Wessels was arraigned on Tuesday, Dec. 1, on charges that include felony theft, dealing in unlawful proceeds, and related offenses. He was released on $25,000 unsecured bail, Hogan said.

This case was investigated by the Chester County Detectives and the Sadsbury Township Police Department. Anyone with further information should contact Detective Thomas Goggin at 610-344-6866, Hogan said.

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