COLCHESTER, Vt. (AP) – The mysterious, gradual disappearance of $13,000 worth of metal shelving from a furniture store parking lot was solved – by a surveillance camera.

The camera, on a neighboring store, caught the culprit in a series of pre-dawn heists at Furniture World of Vermont, authorities said.

Paul Lavallee, 28, of Milton, was taken into custody and charged Wednesday with grand larceny for the thefts, which began last weekend but weren’t noticed until Tuesday.

The shelving, for a warehouse racking system being installed at the store, was stored in eight piles in a rear parking area.

On Tuesday, Furniture World owner Dan Martello noticed that the piles were diminished. When he and wife Shannon called police, an officer went to the scene and noticed that a business next door, Crowley Construction, had an exterior surveillance videocamera.

He suggested that the Martellos review images from it to see if the thefts were caught on tape. They were.

At exactly 5:24 a.m. on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, a man was seen pulling up in a pickup truck, donning work gloves and loading the beams onto the bed of the truck.

“I was surprised the guy came back every morning at the same time, and loaded up like it was his job,” Mrs. Martello said Thursday. “He picked pieces from every pile, so we wouldn’t notice it coming down. But he took so much on Sunday and Monday that we noticed it on Tuesday. He started getting greedy.”

On Wednesday, a police officer was in place – hiding behind a trailer – beginning at 5 a.m. Finally, at 5:40 a.m., the man pulled up and began the daily routine before the officer arrested him.

Lavallee admitted taking the shelves and selling them for scrap, getting $400 for materials worth $13,000, according to Detective Michael Fish.


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