For nearly two years, the ECHL Reading Royals would notice a few things were disappearing from their equipment offices. A couple of sticks. A few skates. Which, admittedly, was weird.
Even weirder: The gear was actually disappearing due to an ongoing inside job by their former assistant equipment manager, who is accused of stealing gear and then selling it at a local skating rink.
According to Reading police, 36-year-old Thomas J. Plaugher was charged with felony counts of theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property after the Philadelphia Flyers affiliate reported the thefts in May. The thefts allegedly occurred from Dec. 2015 to March 2017.
He remains free to await a preliminary hearing on Oct. 6.
Criminal investigator Joseph N. Snell spoke to several people who bought equipment from Plaugher at Skateway, a skating facility on the Lancaster Pike in Cumru Township. Investigators said that he sold 29 Super or Ultra Tack sticks for $2,465, two goalie sticks for $177.50 and various other items for a total of $4,343.
According to investigators: Plaugher was the assistant equipment manager and had access to the office where the hockey sticks were kept. He also had access to other hockey equipment while games were being played at the Santander Arena, and had a key to access the hockey team’s facilities so he could use the fitness equipment.
One of the more incredible parts of this story? That Plaugher, according to WFMZ-TV, actually sold five hockey sticks he stole from the team during a Royals game last season, “having the buyer let in by a security guard through the VIP doors.”
The word you’re looking for is “brazen.”