AKRON, OHIO - It's every businessperson, lawyer, reporter or novelist's nightmare: losing your laptop, or more important, the booty in it. In one of those ironic twists, last month a man hired to guard the property and grounds of Advanced Elastomer Systems L.P.'s new Akron headquarters stole three Compaq lap-top computers from the firm.
During his midnight shift for United Security Patrol Inc. of Akron, Andre Gulley, 22, carted off the computers, valued at about $13,000. But as every lap-top user knows, the loss to AES could have been much higher than just hardware costs.
Luckily, AES employees use their laptops mainly for spreadsheets and electronic mail, so the stolen computers held no information that might prove damaging in the hands of a competitor, said AES spokeswoman Margaret Mattix.
Gulley sold a laptop to an Akron computer store for $650, and returned several weeks later to unload the other two, said Akron police Detective Rick Humphrey. But when a store employee plugged in one of the latter laptops, AES's logo popped up, he said. The store called AES, which notified police.
When Gulley was arrested Aug. 30 he still had $400 in his pocket from the $1,450 he had made from selling all three computers, Humphrey said. Gulley, who confessed on the spot, told Humphrey ``he and his wife were having financial problems and needed the money.'' Gulley also told Humphrey he used some of the money to repay a personal debt to somebody named Scoobie from Detroit.
``Computers are pretty hot these days,'' Humphrey said.
But the laptops are back at AES, with their goods intact, Mattix said.
She called the theft ``one of the many adventures we've had as we've moved everybody in'' to the Akron headquarters. The firm, which makes thermoplastic elastomers, has moved 85 people from its former St. Louis site, though renovation on the Akron building, which eventually will house 200 AES employees, is still under way, she said.
Gulley was charged with grand theft, based on the value of the computers, but that charge was reduced to petty theft at his Sept. 12 arraignment, according to the Akron Clerk of Courts. The court suspended a 180-day jail term and a $250 fine, and Gulley was sentenced to serve 10 days of community service.
AES is a joint venture between Monsanto Chemical Co. of St. Louis and Exxon Chemical Co. of Houston.