Athletes and staff didn’t rely on university police to catch the culprit. Instead they took matters into their own hands.
When items started to disappear, athletes were told to be on the lookout for anyone suspicious. A former basketball player snapped a photograph of the suspected thief in the parking lot of the Huntsman Center.
The photo spread fast and Head Basketball Coach Larry Krystkowiak offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who could catch the guy.
“We put the email out with the reward and things started happening right away,” Krystkowiak said.
Basketball managers Hans Steinbrenner and Austin DeSilivia soon got a tip from a track coach about the suspected burglar’s whereabouts.
Steinbrenner and DeSilivia quickly turned into detectives and started following the suspicious man.
“We just tried to stay away from him so he wouldn’t know that we were following him,” Steinbrenner said. “We were trying to get the cops over.”
The two followed the man to the to men’s locker room where they cornered him.
“I asked him where he got all that stuff,” DeSilivia said. “He made up a bunch of excuses.”
“He kept saying Paul Millsap gave him the gear,” Steinbrenner said. “But the gear was actually a week old.”
The alleged thief is 46-year-old Earnest Hartman.
University Police Sgt. Garth Smith said Hartman is responsible for a three week crime spree on campus.
Hartman allegedly stole computers, video equipment and clothing from the Marketing, Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball departments and possibly the Science Department. Smith said Hartman was using a master set of keys and police are investigating where he got them.
Smith also said Hartman had set up shop at an Econo Lodge motel room in Salt Lake where he tried to sell the stolen good online.
“Some of the stuff we didn’t know was stolen until we were able to look at the pile of stolen goods in the hotel room,” Krystkowiak said.
The effort from the basketball managers proved they are a team on and off the court.
“We just have everyone’s back,” Steinbrenner added. “When something is stolen we take it personal.”
Hartman is being held at the Salt Lake County Jail charged with one count of theft, four counts of burglary and one count of stolen property.
All the locks in the athletics department have since been changed.
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