Employee theft hearing today

What once was lost has been found, but the task remains for University Police to find those who truly own the $7,500 worth of stolen campus items.

A few articles have yet to be placed with owners, but police have cleared 20 campus theft cases since officers removed 90 stolen items with a U-Haul truck in late December from a former university employee’s home.

Daniel T. Gintz, 46, of Chippewa Falls, is a former campus grounds worker fired by the university in late December after being charged with the felony theft of a large amount of campus property over the past two years.

Gintz is scheduled to appear today at a hearing in Eau Claire County Circuit Court. He is being held at the Chippewa County Jail.

The university experienced a theft plague on campus during the two years Gintz worked for the university.

He started working here for custodial services in January 2000 and switched to the grounds department last March.

The theft case is large and still under investigation, said University Police Officer Doug Hubbard, lead investigator for the case.

“I’ve never seen anything of this magnitude of employee theft,” said Hubbard, a 22-year veteran officer in the UW System. “(Gintz) was good at what he did.”

According to police reports, Gintz told officers that he has a theft problem he cannot control.

The items recovered by police during a consented search of Gintz’s home on December 21 are believed to be university property, Hubbard said.

Some of the items Gintz is charged with stealing from the university are a $300 snowblower, a Chinese teapot that cost more than $1,000 and a $2,000 metal fish sculpture, according to reports.

The biggest task for officers has been the management and return of the stolen items, Hubbard said.

Police returned most items to their owners and campus buildings the next day but some have yet to be reported stolen, he said.

Police suspected employee theft for most of the stolen items over the past two years because there were no signs of forced entry, Hubbard said.

Gintz became a possible suspect for the thefts because a few members of custodial services advised police when he started working that he had previous employee thefts at other state institutions, like Northern Center in Chippewa Falls, Hubbard said.

“The information that these people gave was very helpful,” Hubbard said.

When Eau Claire Police arrested Gintz in December at his home on a Nov. 14 retail theft charge, the officers notified campus police of items there that appeared to be university property.

Hubbard and other officers then received permission to search Gintz’ home Dec. 21. Gintz has been in jail since his December arrest for breaking probation given for a May 1 incident. Gintz was found guilty of one count of battery, retail theft and hit and run for the episode.

Despite Gintz’s criminal record before working on campus, school officials typically do not look at an employee’s personal file or perform background checks for job applicants, said Donna Weber, interim director of the university’s personnel services.

The exceptions are for certain campus positions, such as children’s center workers and police officers.

Since the type of criminal behavior Gintz is charged with is not something the university has had a lot of problems with, Weber said she does not “see any big changes coming at this point.”