June 25, 2016


Report: Vermilion patrolman broke into captain’s office, stole car key

VERMILION — A patrolman, accused of breaking into a police captain’s office through the ceiling to steal a car key, repeatedly lied about the incident during a two-month investigation, according to a police report.

Patrolman Dale Reising could face disciplinary action or dismissal from the police department following an incident on Jan. 9 when he allegedly broke into Vermilion Police Capt. Mike Reinheimer’s office to steal a patrol car key, Reinheimer said.

On Feb. 10, Reinheimer came into his office to find ceiling tile debris covering a cabinet near the west wall. Reinheimer found that one of the police cars had been moved from its place in the parking lot over the weekend of Feb. 8-9 and that the only key to the car had been locked in his office for the past two days. The key had been returned to his office after the car was moved, according to the report.

The car was one of three new police cars and had been assigned to Reising only 10 days earlier, according to the report. Reising was on duty during the weekend that the key was stolen, Reinheimer said.

Believing that Reising, on the Vermiliion force since 2009, used an adjoining bathroom to break into his office through the ceiling, Reinheimer quickly started an investigation into the patrolman’s activity over the Feb. 8-9 weekend.

In an interview on March 8, Reising denied much of his involvement.

“I was just seeing if it could be done,” Reising told Reinheimer, according to the report. Reising initially said that he didn’t take anything from the office and that he “just looked at the ceiling tiles,” but did not actually enter the office through the ceiling, the report said. Reising told Reinheimer that he did make a copy of the key the day the car was assigned to him on Jan. 30, but did not take the key from Reinheimer’s office over the Feb. 8-9 weekend.

For Reinheimer, the interview was the first of multiple signs that Reising was being untruthful.

In a report of the interview, Reinheimer wrote that Reising had been given the job of running wire through the captain’s office in the past and that he would already know he could get into the office through the drop ceiling.

“There were just some red flags that came up,” Reinheimer said of the investigation.

After interviewing employees at Ace Hardware where Reising said he had the key copied on Jan. 30, police found that the key had actually been copied on Feb. 9, the weekend of the break-in, according to the report.

Reinheimer interviewed Reising again and confronted him with the new information. In the final interview, Reising admitted to using a metal rod which is nicknamed “Big Pinky” by the police department to enter the captain’s office through the ceiling. The rod is typically used to retrieve a person’s keys from inside their locked car, Reinheimer said.

Reising told Reinheimer that he was in the bathroom next to the captain’s office on Feb. 9 and used the rod to go up through the ceiling of the bathroom and down through the drop ceiling into the captain’s office. He said he used the rod to pick up the key from the office and returned the key the same way after he had it copied, according to the report.

Reising was not charged after admitting to the theft, but Reinheimer suggested to Vermilion Police Chief Chris Hartung that Reising be dismissed from his position as a patrolman for the police department.

It was Reising’s lies throughout the investigation that Reinheimer said bothered him most.

“It’s going to be a shadow … who’s going to believe what he says after this? Even here?” Reinheimer said.

The case is being reviewed by Vermilion Law Director Kenneth Stumphauzer. Mayor Eileen Bulan will make the final decision on Reising’s fate at the Vermilion Police Department.

However, no action can be taken until Reising returns from family and medical leave at the end of this week.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.

About Anna Merriman

Anna Merriman is the police reporter for the Chronicle-Telegram. She can be reached at 329-7245 or AMerriman@chroniclet.com.Follow her on Twitter.