NU Public Utilities safe found in Olmsted Co.
Former employee accused of stealing PUC vehicles, electronic devices
NEW ULM — The discovery of a New Ulm Public Utilties (NUPUC) safe along the side of an Olmsted County road led authorities to uncover several items had been stolen from PUC building over the long Thanksgiving weekend, including vehicles, a trailer, boat motor and numerous electronic devices.
Garrett Dean Loudermilk, a 43-year-old St. James man who formerly worked for New Ulm Public Utilities is accused of theft.
According to court documents, New Ulm Police were called Saturday, Nov. 25 from an Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matti who said a safe believed to be connected to the City of New Ulm was found on the side of a road in Olmsted County. The safe was open and contained paperwork and invoices relating to the City of New Ulm Public Utilities.
New Ulm Police Sergeants Aaron Lewandowski and Brady Murphy later met a witness at the PUC building and discovered a safe was missing and a printer and laptop case were on the floor near a desk. The office had been closed for the Thanksgiving holiday since Wednesday, Nov. 22.
In the building lower level, near an exterior door, it was noticed the door had been propped open and several items were placed near the door including three cases of Mountain Dew, a case and battery charger for a Milwaukee air hammer, a cable winch in a bag, a Leveno think pad laptop, meter reading equipment, and a leaf blower. It appeared someone was planning to return to take the items.
At about noon, Nov. 25, New Ulm Police Investigator Jeff Hohensee got a call from Police investigator Martin who told him another burglary happened the prior evening. Several City of New Ulm department heads, the PUC director and city manager gathered in the PUC conference room.
A large, wall-mounted television was missing and there was sheet rock dust and screws on the floor where the television was ribbed from the wall.
Upstairs from the office area, police noticed suspects entered various offices and removed items from desks and desk drawers. Police were taken to the basement where a service door was propped open by an ice scraper. Several tools were taken from bins and placed into tubs. Several power tools were reported missing. Several vehicles were parked in the garage. Investigator Hohensee was told the PUC was missing two larger pickup trucks with tool chests attached and one van. One of the remaining trucks was pulled forward, allowing access to a vehicle to be moved into the garage bay for easier access to the stolen tools.
Loudermilk was traced to the burglaries through use of his PUC access card. Garrett was apprehended near his St. James residence Saturday by St. James Police. He was a PUC employee at the time of the burglaries, but he has since been terminated from the New Ulm PUC.
Investigator Hohensee later talked to Loudermilk who said the boat motor was in his Chevy Tahoe and he intended to go to Iowa to trade it for two jet skies later that evening.
Loudermilk said the stolen PUC truck was parked in Hanska near the grain elevator and the stolen van was in Darfur, near the elevator; and that he and his friend parked the two stolen vehicles at those locations.
Loudermilk confirmed he used his City of New Ulm access card to gain entry to the doors.
Stolen items included a 2013 GMC Savanna van, 2016 Ford F350, Dodge Ram 1500, 2022 Kubota tractor, 2013 Mac-Lander trailer, Mercury 40 horsepower boat motors and numerous electronic devices including Ipads, tools and other PUC supplies.
Charges were filed against Loudermilk in Brown County District Tuesday. He is facing felony 2nd-degree burglary-use of force and felony 3rd-degree burglary charges. Bail was set at $100,000 without conditions, $20,000. A hearing was set for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday Dec. 12.