WARREN - A city employee was charged Wednesday with stealing 15 copies of the Tribune Chronicle out of a coin box at a North Park Avenue grocery store.
Dennis J. Griffing, 52, who works in the operations department, also admitted to a sheriff's detective that he's been stealing the newspapers over the last year, a sheriff's report states. He said he gets 15 to 20 copies of the paper from different machines.
''Once he gets the papers, he takes them to work and the employees, including management, help themselves to the papers,'' the report states.
Griffing, the brother of Warren Auditor David Griffing, was caught Wednesday morning 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 Wednesday's paper.
Stewart said he pulled Griffing's car over in the grocery store parking lot and recovered the newspapers in his car.
A day earlier, Stewart said he set up surveillance at a restaurant at the corner of East Market Street and Chestnut Avenue N.E., where another newspaper coin box has been repeatedly looted, and there was no theft.
Papers on Tuesday had been stolen instead from a box near the G.E. Ohio Lamp Plant on Dana Street N.E. - another common place where the thefts had occurred, Stewart said.
Officials at the Tribune Chronicle said newspaper thefts in general over the past year have been significant and the newspaper will pursue charges in connection with any of the thefts.
Stewart said further arrests could be pending in his investigation.
Griffing was scheduled to appear for arraignment this morning in Warren Municipal Court on a misdemeanor charge of theft.