Two 19-year-old Millsboro men have been indicted by a grand jury in the April 15 theft of a holstered duty belt from a parked, unmarked, Dewey Beach police officer’s vehicle.
In documents filed with the Sussex County Prothonotary Office July 10, a grand jury indicted Thomas D. Hammett, 19, and Raymond L. Werner, 19, with theft of a firearm, theft of $1,500 or greater, second-degree conspiracy, third-degree conspiracy, selling stolen property under $1,500, theft under $1,500 and criminal trespassing. The indictment names Dewey Beach Sgt. Cliff Dempsey as the officer whose weapon was stolen.
Delaware State Police Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said state police are investigating the theft of a police officer’s firearm beginning Sunday, April 16. He said the victim reported a gun stolen from a parked, unmarked police vehicle outside a residence in the unit block of Parker Drive, Millsboro.
Fournier said the officer’s holstered duty belt was taken, which included a Glock 21 .45-caliber firearm, two fully loaded .45-caliber magazines, an X26 Taser, pepper spray, baton and handcuffs.
Fournier said Hammett and Werner, who was incarcerated in Maryland at the time, were arrested and charged May 8.
Dewey Beach Mayor Dale Cooke said Sept. 4 he was made aware of the issue shortly after the April theft, but he was not at liberty to discuss the problem because of personnel issues. Cooke said the town police department conducted an internal investigation, but, he said, because town employees have appeal power to council over department head disciplinary actions, he did not get involved.
To date, Cooke said no appeal has been made to council.
A police department spokesman could not be reached. The Cape Gazette has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documentation of disciplinary action related to the case, but town officials say police personnel issues are not subject to FOIA requests.
Fournier also said two additional people were arrested as a result of the state police investigation. Katelyn Woodward, 18, of Millsboro was arrested May 9 and charged with selling stolen property under $1,500 and third-degree conspiracy. Garett R. Runne, 21, of Millsboro was arrested May 15 and charged with receiving a stolen firearm, receiving stolen property, selling stolen property and third-degree conspiracy.
Carl Kanefsky, Attorney General’s Office spokesman, said Woodward is scheduled for a non-jury trial Tuesday, Sept. 12, on the two misdemeanor charges of selling stolen property under $1,500 and third-degree conspiracy. Kanefsky said Runne pled guilty on to the same two misdemeanor charges June 1 and was sentenced to one year probation.
Fournier said, as of Sept. 4, the gun, ammunition, and magazines have not been recovered.
Cooke said he’s worried that the gun and ammunition have not been found.
There’s a weapon out there that could do harm, he said.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated.