A police officer in the Hagerstown Police Department was caught selling police property on eBay. Things like body armor, spike strips, and police scanners, just to name a few. Evidently it had been going on for five years without anyone realizing items were going missing.
From the official Facebook page for the Hagerstown Police Department:
****Statement from Chief Kifer****
I am saddened and disheartened to inform the community of criminal charges against an HPD supervisor. We know that our community holds us in a place of trust and commitment and that has been broken by one person. I cannot and will not allow criminal and immoral conduct inside the Hagerstown Police Department. Upon learning of a possible theft scheme, I immediately took action to have Bobetich suspended and have a criminal investigation started. At the completion of the investigation, he was terminated from the Hagerstown Police Department.
I would like to thank the State’s Attorney’s Office for their guidance on criminal charges related to this matter. I want to thank the employees assigned to this case who worked countless hours to make sure that this investigation was thorough, timely and done without preferential treatment. As always, I want to say how grateful I am for the honorable men and women of HPD who tirelessly protect and serve our community. We will continue to do that to the best of our ability, with honesty, integrity and trust. We will not allow the actions of one to tarnish us all.
Thank you to the public for your continued support of the Hagerstown Police Department.
****Hagerstown Police Department Media Release****
On February 21st, 2020 HPD became aware of a possible internal theft scheme. An extensive investigation was conducted involving Sgt. Daniel Bobetich and his use of eBay.com, an online auction/selling website, to sell stolen police items. Sgt. Bobetich’s police powers were suspended immediately.
The investigation revealed that Bobetich sold 197 police items over a period of years beginning in 2015. These items were either used or stored by the Hagerstown Police Department and owned by the City of Hagerstown. The total loss of property value is over $61,000.
Some of the stolen items include:
- Handheld radios/charging bases and accessories
- Duty Belt equipment
- Body Armor
- Stinger Spike Strip Systems
- Various electronic items used in police cruisers
The Hagerstown Police Department is actively contacting buyers of the stolen property and recovering items. The investigation is ongoing and we have been working closely with the State’s Attorney’s Office to determine the appropriate charges. The City of Hagerstown will be seeking restitution as part of the prosecution.
Bobetich has been charged with the following and has been terminated today, 4/21/20, from the Hagerstown Police Department:
Theft Scheme: $25k to < $100k
Maximum Penalty: 10 years &/or $15,000
Theft Scheme: $1k to < $10k
Maximum Penalty: 10 years &/or $10,000
Malfeasance in Office
Maximum Penalty set at the discretion of the judge
How often does the Hagerstown Police Department do inventory?
I think what Sgt. Bobetich did was wrong. I think he deserves to go to prison. I guess. To be honest, I don’t really care. What I find to be the most egregious thing in this entire story is how sloppy the Hagerstown Police Department has been with keeping track of their property. Our tax dollars paid for everything they have. The Hagerstown Police Department allowed 197 items to go missing over the course of five years seemingly without anyone noticing. One of the reasons you do a regular, detailed inventory of what you have is so no one in an organization even thinks about taking anything.
The other thing that troubles me about this story is how they are now going after the eBay buyers who purchased these items. How were they supposed to know the items were stolen? What if the buyers no longer have the items they purchased from Sgt. Bobetich, will they have to pay some kind of financial restitution to the Hagerstown Police Department? That seems overreaching to me.
Although I’ve never bought police gear on eBay, I don’t know what I’d do if I was contacted by someone who claimed something I bought on eBay was stolen from them five years ago. Furthermore, they didn’t notice it was missing until now. Would I legally be obligated to return something like that? I don’t think I would, but I’m not a lawyer.
Until now, I didn’t even know you could purchase a spike strip on eBay. I would have figured regular people just make their own out of a garden hose and a box of nails. I wonder how many of the buyers were other police departments seeking items they could use performing their duty.