Theft of state vehicle from DCNR results in charges

Staff Writer

A Long Pond man is facing charges following the theft of a state vehicle from the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in late June.
According to an affidavit of probable cause filed at the office of Magisterial District Judge Mark S. Jacob of St. Marys on Monday, Timothy Paul Wicks, 18, of 130 Clearview Rd., Long Pond, allegedly stole a state vehicle belonging to DCNR from the Hicks Run Maintenance Headquarters located at 783 Hicks Run Rd., Benezette sometime between 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 28 and 7 a.m. on Friday, June 29.
On July 29 at approximately 7 a.m., DCNR Ranger Brian Johnson was informed by District Forester Jeanne Wambaugh that a state vehicle had been stolen from the Hicks Run Maintenance Headquarters. At 7:40 a.m., Johnson arrived on scene and met with Maintenance Supervisor Dan Busher, who provided him with information on the vehicle, which was reportedly a green 2012 Ford truck with a slip-on fire unit on the back. Busher indicated that the vehicle had last been seen in a locked, fenced area attached to the Headquarters on June 28 at 5 p.m.
At the time, Johnson observed both “the chain linked fence laying on Hicks Run Road and tire tracks leaving the area” along with “footprints that were in a mudded area where the vehicle had been last seen by Busher.”
Photographs were taken of the area, and the Pennsylvania State Police were called to the scene.
At 9:27 a.m., Robert J. McElhenny, 66, of New Foundland, Pa., arrived on scene and reported that he had been camping at the Hicks Run Campground, approximately one mile up the road, with Wicks, but when he woke up that morning Wicks was gone.
McElhenny not only provided a photograph and description of Wicks, but also had with him a pair of green water shoes that he indicated belonged to Wicks. According to McElhenny, he had purchased Wicks two pairs of the shoes, and Wicks was wearing blue pair.
According to the affidavit, “after revealing the shoes, they were compared to the footprints left at the scene. It was determined that they were consistent with tread, width and length of the footprints left at the scene.”
McElhenny was also able to provide contact information for Wicks’ family and the state police began attempting to contact them.
PSP reportedly left the scene at 12:40 p.m.
At approximately 1:10 p.m., Johnson was contacted by PSP, who indicated that they had spoken to Wicks by phone. He was reportedly at a residence in Canadensis and admitted to having the vehicle. DCNR rangers were then sent to the address Wicks had provided to PSP.
DCNR Rangers Chris Thompson and Brad Nauman arrived at the address in Canadensis provided by Wicks at 2:30 p.m. Upon their arrival, Wicks allegedly exited the residence and handed Thompson the keys to the stolen vehicle, which was parked nearby. Wicks was also observed to be wearing blue water shoes when Thompson and Nauman made contact with him.
Wicks was reportedly willing to speak about the incident, and Thompson contacted Johnson again at 4:30 p.m. “stating that Wicks had admitted to taking the truck from the Hicks Run Shop.”
On Saturday, June 30, Johnson was provided with the audio from Thompson and Nauman’s interview with Wicks. During that interview, Wicks stated that he left the Hicks Run Campground around 2 a.m. on June 29 and walked down the road until he reached the DCNR building.
According to the affidavit, "at this time, Wicks stated he ‘jumped the fence.’ Once inside the fence he checked the door on the vehicle. When he found it was unlocked he placed his stuff inside the vehicle and drove through the fence and went home. Wicks also stated that while driving home he had to stop three separate times to get gas for the vehicle."
According to the affidavit, a check of records revealed that Wicks did not possess a valid driver’s license when the incident took place.
On Monday, July 2, DCNR Ranger Dave Plessinger reported to the Nittany Minit Mart located at 12120 Bennetts Valley Hwy., Penfield. Security camera footage from that location reportedly showed an individual matching Wicks’ description getting gas in a DCNR work truck at 2:45 a.m. on June 29 and then entering the store and making purchases.
Wicks is facing third-degree felony charges of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property, a second-degree felony charge of criminal trespass, a third-degree misdemeanor charge of defiant trespass, a second-degree misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief and a summary charge of driving without a license.
A preliminary hearing for Wicks is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31 at the office of Judge Jacob.