A Real Whodunit: The Case of the Forklift Safe Cracker

Police LinePolice in Park City think they may have solved the mysterious case of a safe that was discovered sitting in the middle of a city street next to a forklift that had become stuck in a gutter.

The case began about 7 a.m. Monday, August 3, when somebody discovered the 3-foot tall safe on Swede Alley close to the Wasatch Brew Pub, a popular watering hole. The disabled forklift was discovered about 20 feet away.

Doug Hofeling, CEO of Salt Lake Brewing Company, the pub’s owner, told police that both the safe and the forklift belonged to the business. But the safe was normally kept inside the brew pub in a locked office and the forklift was kept parked in a garage.

How they got into the street remained a mystery.

The Plot Thickens

Investigators theorized that someone tried to use the forklift to steal the safe, but was only partially successful. While the thief was able to get the safe outside, it could not be opened and several thousand dollars remained inside.

In fact, the safe contained more money than it usually did because of increased business at the pub due to the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, which was held that weekend.

Also, marks on the safe indicated that somebody apparently used a blowtorch and other tools belonging to the pub in the unsuccessful attempt to get it open.

Clues Discovered

At the crime scene, investigators also discovered another clue, one that eventually would lead them directly to their prime suspect: Blood.

Whoever tried to open the safe apparently injured themselves in the process because blood and other forensic evidence — including footprints and fingerprints — were found on and near the safe.

Given the evidence, Park City Police Lt. Darwin Little told local news reporters that investigators began to suspect an inside job.

Pub Employees Questioned

While interviewing an employee of the pub, investigators noticed that he had a fresh injury on his hand. The employee said he had cut himself after pinching his hand between two tables at the restaurant.

But investigators said the wound appeared to be caused by a puncture, such as a screwdriver or other tool that could have been used in an attempt to open the safe.

According to police, the suspect had detailed knowledge about where the pub stored its tools, as well as the fact that the safe would be full of cash thanks to the increased festival sales.

The employee — who already has been fired from his job at Wasatch Brew Pub — has not yet been charged with the crime but is not cooperating with investigators. Other people also may be involved with the attempted burglary, according to Little.

The investigation is continuing, he said.


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