Upton man to be charged with felony theft for stolen haul truck tires

Arch Coal's Black Thunder mine in southern Campbell County commenced operations in 1977. Arch Coal shed $5 billion in debt before emerging from bankruptcy in 2016, making it one of the most financially resilient mine operators in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. (Dustin Bleizeffer)
Arch Resources' Black Thunder Mine in Campbell County

The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) will likely seek felony theft charges for an Upton man connected to a pair of haul truck tires reported stolen from the Black Thunder coal mine last week, investigators said Thursday.

Valued at $28,000 apiece, the tires were allegedly stolen from the mine between October 2019 and the beginning of 2020 by a 64-year-old male former employee who had been assigned to Black Thunder’s tire department, CCSO Investigator Josh Knittel said May 27.

The theft was discovered after the male attempted to sell the haul truck tires to Big Horn Tire but abruptly canceled the transaction after learning they would be coming to Gillette.

A tire broker working as a go-between in the transaction notified the mine of the cancellation, Knittel said, adding that it was flagged as suspicious and prompted the mine to conduct an audit of their tire stock.

-- Crime coverage is brought to you with the support of Just Criminal Law. – Story Continues Below --

The haul truck tires the 64-year-old male was trying to sell were found to be an exact match to a pair sold to Black Thunder in 2019, per Knittel, who said the suspect was initially uncooperative when contacted.

He later admitted to driving a semi-tractor to the mine, loading up the tires, and then leaving with them, Knittel said. The suspect then held onto the tire for a while, intending to sell them when he deemed the timing was right.

As of May 27, the suspect had not been arrested, per Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds, who said that the office is currently working with the Campbell County Attorney’s Office to determine what charges will be filed in the case.

The male will likely be charged with felony theft, Reynolds said. The identity of the suspect was not released Thursday.