Paper thief must pay restitution

WARREN – A city employee who was charged with stealing 15 copies of the Tribune Chronicle from a coin box in April was ordered to pay more than $2,200 in restitution costs after completing a theft diversion program.

In exchange for completing the diversion program at a cost of $200, a charge of theft against Dennis J. Griffing was dismissed Monday by Warren Municipal Judge Terry Ivanchak.

Griffing, who pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge in July, qualified for the program since he had no prior criminal offenses.

But the operations department employee and brother of the city auditor cooperated with an investigation and admitted to a detective to routinely stealing stacks of the newspapers out of different coin boxes and distributing them to fellow employees over a period of months.

The newspaper used the admissions to estimate a restitution figure that was turned over to the court.

Griffing was caught when Maj. Tom Stewart of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office set up surveillance of Griffing leaving his home for work at 6:15 a.m. The detective followed him to Save-A-Lot, and at 6:41 a.m. Stewart said he saw him put money in the coin machine and pull out 15 copies of that Wednesday’s paper.

Stewart said he pulled Griffing’s car over in the grocery store parking lot and recovered the newspapers.

Officials at the Tribune Chronicle said newspaper thefts in general over the past year have been significant and the newspaper continues to pursue charges in connection with any thefts that occur.

A 77-year-old local man was photographed taking papers from another box outside an apartment building and was fined $50, placed on three years probation and given a suspended 180-day jail sentence last month.