Trio arrested in connection with theft of more than $20K in water heaters

Trio arrested in connection with theft of more than $20K in water heaters

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Deputies in Richland County have arrested three men after discovering $23,000 in water heaters were stolen.

Officials with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said they were contacted by Home Depot Organized Retail Theft investigators and the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department regarding an ongoing investigation. Investigators with Home Depot said the merchandise was being transported from their distribution center in West Columbia by Estes Express Line to different retail stores, but vendors realized items that were billed for transport weren’t arriving at the stores.

Deputies from RCSD and LCSD searched the home of 28-year-old Cody Bessinger, who was an employee of Estes Express Line at the time. While searching Bessinger’s home, deputies found more than $23,000 worth of stolen Rheem tankless water heaters.

Investigators were later able to determine that the theft had been going on for more than 18 months. Joe Gunter, who was an assistant manager with Estes Express Line, and Chris Shumpert, a manager with the freight shipping company were also involved.

Bessinger has been charged with two counts of grand larceny over $10,000 and conspiracy. Gunter and Shumpert were each charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent over $10,000 and conspiracy.

The three men were booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

The coordinated efforts between Home Depot, Estes Express Line, SLED, LCSD, and RCSD made this arrest possible.

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