WILLMAR — A Willmar man has been charged with felony theft for allegedly stealing numerous items in 2018 from the property of a man who was in jail.
The investigation began when the father of the man in jail noticed that things were missing when he checked his son’s property. It lasted more than two years and included some teamwork between Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputies and the incarcerated man.
Thomas Walter Quimby, 44, has been accused of taking items worth about $20,000 from the home of a man who had been arrested and was in the Kandiyohi County Jail at the time. The man and Quimby were former roommates.
Quimby was charged in January and made an initial appearance Wednesday in Kandiyohi County District Court. He has been released on his own recognizance with conditions since late February. His next court date is May 12.
According to the criminal complaint describing the investigation, family members had been checking on the man’s rural Willmar property after he was arrested.
His father reported to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office in February 2018 that items appeared to be missing from his son’s home, most noticeably a large flat-screen TV in the living room. He said he hadn’t noticed the TV or anything else missing several days earlier.
In looking more closely, the owner’s father reported that gaming systems, laptops, power tools and hand tools were also missing, according to court records.
The man’s father could not list everything that was missing, so deputies turned to the property owner. The man provided a list of items missing in the house, using photos taken during his arrest and photos taken later. He said he had about 500 gallons of fuel in a gas barrel on the property. He suggested Quimby as a possible suspect.
The man’s father had seen Quimby taking fuel from the gas barrel. According to the court file, Quimby said he had permission to take fuel in exchange for putting money into the man’s jail canteen account. However, the man said Quimby deposited no money in the jail account.
The man told deputies the missing items included some unique, recognizable items, including a copper still and a .50-caliber machine gun mount for a military vehicle.
Authorities checked pawn shops for missing items but found no sign anyone had pawned them.
A semitrailer was missing from the property, and the Sheriff’s Office received tips that Quimby had arranged to have the trailer moved from the property.
Quimby said at the time he had nothing to do with the missing property.
The trailer wouldn’t be located until November 2020.
In April 2018, a witness said Quimby said he had purchased the trailer from the owner but the witness didn’t know where it was.
When interviewed, Quimby said he had provided labor in exchange for the trailer, and it contained his property. He said he didn’t know what had happened to it.
In September 2019, the CEE-VI Drug and Gang Task Force served a warrant in Renville County and notified Kandiyohi County that some of the missing property from the Quimby investigation may have been found.
The property included portable radios, radio parts, a receipt with the name and address of the property owner in Kandiyohi County and mounts for a machine gun.
Deputies sent photos of the items to the owner, who was then in federal prison in Arkansas, and he identified them as his property.
In August 2020, a witness provided more information about the missing trailer and its possible location.
Quimby was interviewed again in November 2020. He first denied but then later admitted that he had taken the property recovered in Renville County, according to court records. He said he had a purchase agreement for the trailer, but the ownership could be disputed.
According to court records, Quimby said the trailer was empty when he had it moved, then said that it wasn’t empty. After a year at a property in Spicer, the trailer had been stored at an auto salvage business.
The county towed the trailer to the county recycling center in Willmar. The owner of the trailer, by then released from prison, viewed the trailer's contents and said the items inside did not belong to him.
In court records, the only items listed as recovered are the items that were found in Renville County.
Those items and their values:
A wooden box containing antique surveying equipment, value $2,000;
A green ammunition box with flares inside, value $480;
Military machine gun bipod mounting parts, World War II tripods, value $7,800;
Base unit radios, chargers, microphones, portable radios and antennas, value $10,000.
Click to read more about Crime and Courts.