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Man sentenced to 8 years for theft

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A Polson man has admitted to stealing a Jeep that was later painted black and used to steal packages from porches.

Kenneth Charles Gieber, 23, entered a plea of guilty at District Court in Polson on May 19 to felony charges of theft and criminal mischief. The plea was entered as part of an agreement that calls for eight years with the Montana Department of Corrections with three of those years suspended. Judge James Manley set a sentencing date for July 7.

According to court records, on Dec. 9, 2020, Polson police began receiving reports of a black Jeep following FedEx and UPS delivery trucks and stealing the packages delivered to homes in the area. The suspected Jeep was later located high-centered in an undeveloped area at the Ridgewater subdivision of Polson. 

The Jeep turned out to be stolen from a residence on Flathead View Drive. When contacted by investigators, the registered owner said he was unaware the Jeep had been stolen. He said he was out of state for the winter and that the Jeep should be in his garage. 

The Jeep was initially white and had been recently painted black. A white Jeep was linked to a string of similar thefts of delivered packages in the Missoula area prior to the Polson thefts. Polson police obtained a warrant to search the Jeep. They allegedly found two mobile phones, a receipt from the Polson Walmart and a receipt from an area pawn shop with Gieber’s name on it. One of the mobile phones contained an image or “selfie” of Gieber while in the Jeep.

The Walmart receipt lead police to inspect surveillance video that allegedly showed the Jeep in the early stages of being painted black. Further inspection of the phones turned up “messages referencing dealing drugs, primarily heroin” and attempts to sell stolen property, according to records. 

The theft and criminal mischief charges stem from the theft of and vandalism to the Jeep. Lake County Sheriff’s Office Detective Dan Yonkin led the investigation into those charges, according to Sgt. George Simpson with the Polson Police Department. Prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence to link Gieber to the theft of packages from porches.

Gieber was already on probation for stealing a Polson man’s life savings from a storage unit in Polson. Gieber’s 20-year term was handed down by Judge James Manley on Oct. 23, 2019. Manley ordered restitution of $263,228.97 in that case.


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