By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
“We just want him stopped.”
That’s what Barb Causey, office manager for Vinland Energy on U.S. 25E in Gray, said Thursday after a Tuesday night break-in at the business — adding the company offers a $5,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.
“(On Wednesday) our manager got here at 7 a.m.,” she said. “But when he tried to get in he noticed he had a hard time getting into the door.”
She explained employees regularly enter the business through one particular entrance.
“Once (the employee) got in the door he realized the (door) frame was off,” Causey said. “(The burglar) apparently kicked the door frame in.”
The business’ high-tech surveillance system showed what happened, according to Causey.
“He walked in here,” she said, adding no car was seen parked in the company parking lot. “He walked from the back up this hill.”
Despite the numerous floodlights, including two commercial floodlights, the suspect walked the lot before using his foot to break-into the business.
Once inside, Causey explained there was plenty of time for the burglary suspect to be inside the business.
“He started here,” she said, pointing to one of the windows in her office. “And closed all the blinds that face the highway.”
He then turned all the lights on.
“All the offices were ransacked,” Causey said. “And then he found the shovel in the garage.”
That shovel, she explained, was the burglar’s tool to break open the locked filing cabinets.
“He came in the one way, and he noticed the camera,” she said, adding he wore a ski mask and gloves. “Then he broke that camera, and headed into the control room.”
She said several cameras are set up throughout the building.
“He was IT (information technology) savvy,” she said. “(In the control room) he unhooked two cables — disabling the system.
“He’s smarter than the average bear.”
However, not all was lost.
“We’ve got pictures of him walking out,” she said.
The “scary” part of this burglary, according to Causey, was the last employee left the building Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. — about an hour before the break-in began.
Further, many of the employees, including Causey herself, often work odd hours.
“Anyone coming in would have walked in on them,” she said.
“It’s not so much that he broke in,” Causey added. “It’s being violated in our home.”
She added that many of the employees work in the business more than they are at home.
“This is my home,” she said. “And he came in here and went through my desk, tearing up papers.”
The only thing stolen, according to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, was several thousand dollars in cash — which Causey said led to the new sign at the entrance stating “No Cash on Premises.”
“Everything just got rifled through,” she said. “We cleaned it up and put it all back.”
She said that while crime has been steadily on the rise, this burglary had an effect on her and other staff members.
“This is the third burglary here,” she said, explaining two previous burglaries involved unknown suspects stealing the catalytic converters off the company vehicles.
“Even with all the precautions we still got (burglarized),” she said.
Vinland Energy in Gray is a field office and has approximately 40 employees working for both Vinland and United Well Services, according to Causey.
The sheriff’s office said the suspect is described as a white male in his mid-20s. He stands approximately 6 foot, three inches tall and weighs approximately 170 pounds.
Anyone with any information on the suspect should call the sheriff’s office at (606) 546-3181 and ask for Sheriff John Pickard or Deputy Claude Hudson.