Man Steals Over $20,000 Worth of Items From a Missoula Business
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - On May 2, 2023, a Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Corporal met with a male who is a caretaker of the Pulp Mill property located on Mullan Road. The caretaker stated that someone had entered the property on Friday, April 28, 2023, at approximately 4:15 p.m., and stayed for about an hour, and entered again on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at approximately 2:15 a.m., and stayed for about 45 minutes.
The caretaker stated that several items were now missing, which he estimated at over $20,000 in total losses. The caretaker showed the corporal a storage box approximately 4' x 4', which had contained stainless steel plumbing fittings that were now almost completely empty.
They Have the Suspect's Vehicle on Camera
The caretaker advised that cameras are located around the property. He said they captured a vehicle entering the property and being at the exact door and building the items were removed from. The corporal reviewed the surveillance videos and took photos of the images depicted on the computer screen. The corporal also photographed the building, capturing where the items were originally located, where similar items were located, and a possible boot print left by the suspect.
On May 3, 2023, someone noticed a blue Dodge pickup that matched the vehicle that was seen on the surveillance video. Deputies responded and observed a male standing near the pickup clearing debris from the ditch. Deputies asked the man for his name and informed him that they had reports of a pickup just like his being at the Pulp Mill a couple of days ago.
A deputy asked the male if he had been in the area of the Pulp Mill lately, and the male advised that he had been on the property and had explored the area. The man then identified himself as 45-year-old Gabriel Guardiola.
Suspect Tells the Truth, But Not the Whole Truth
The deputy asked Guardiola how much he explored the property at the Pulp Mill. Guardiola said that he had gone there looking for scrap on the property. He then stated that he took a couple pieces of pipe from the property that he believed was in a scrap pile.
The deputy asked if he had the items with him and he said no. Guardiola then gave the deputy permission to walk around the outside of his truck. From outside of the truck, the deputy did not see any items that appeared to be a pipe fitting, or an electronic switch component as reported stolen.
The deputy then spoke with the caretaker again on the phone. He advised that he estimated the value of the items taken to be at approximately $21,000. The deputy then spoke with Guardiola and told him the approximate value of the items taken.
The deputy advised that there were multiple 5 gallon buckets of pipe fittings that were suspected as taken from the property. Guardiola agreed. According to court documents, Guardiola then said that he would be willing to return the items to the mill to avoid any issues from the theft.
Suspect Admits to Taking More Items
As the conversation continued, Guardiola admitted that he took several pipe fittings and an electrical switch from the outside and inside of one of the buildings on the Pulp Mill property. Guardiola advised that he took the items to the house he was staying at on Our Way. Guardiola further advised that he went to the property twice and looked around during daylight hours before returning during hours of darkness where he stole the items. The deputy then arrested Guardiola and transported him to the Missoula County Detention Facility without issue.
On May 4, 2023, a Missoula County Sheriff’s Detective applied for a search warrant to be executed on the address Guardiola provided to law enforcement where he allegedly stored the property from the Pulp Mill. The search warrant was granted and executed the same day.
During the search of the property, law enforcement discovered and seized several 5-gallon buckets with stainless steel pipe fittings, several hundred 3/8” brass swagelock fittings, approximately 20 boxes containing various switch components, and other various items reported as stolen in this investigation. Each of the items were seized, inventoried, and stored at the Missoula County Sheriff's Office.
Guardiola is currently being charged with felony theft and felony burglary.
The information in this article was obtained from sources that are publicly viewable.