NORRISTOWN — A former employee of a tree trimming company admitted to stealing chainsaws and other equipment from company trucks in Lower Providence, Upper Merion and Horsham townships shortly after he was fired from his job.

Argenis Picon, 31, of the 4600 block of Tampa Street, Philadelphia, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 1½ to 3 years in a state correctional facility after he pleaded guilty to a charge of theft from a motor vehicle in connection with incidents that occurred between May and December 2018 after he was fired from Asplundh, a tree expert company.

Detectives alleged the total value of tools that were stolen exceeded $74,000.

Judge Cheryl L. Austin, who accepted a plea agreement in the case, also ordered Picon to complete two years’ probation following parole, meaning Picon will be under court supervision for five years. As part of the plea agreement, the judge said Picon is eligible for the state’s Quehanna Boot Camp, a military-style, motivational and disciplinary program located in Clearfield County.

An investigation began on Dec. 2, 2018, when Lower Providence police received a report of chainsaws, rigging equipment consisting of ropes and pulleys and other tree trimming equipment was stolen from six work trucks owned by Asplundh while parked in the 900 block of Rittenhouse Road.

“It was apparent that whoever took these tools had some knowledge of where they were kept and how to access the trucks and cabinets for their removal,” Lower Providence Detective Sgt. Terrence Kennedy alleged in the arrest affidavit, adding the value of the stolen items in that incident exceeded $10,000.

During the investigation, detectives learned about other thefts of equipment from 14 Asplundh trucks parked along Keith Valley Road in Horsham between May and June 2018, according to court papers.

Detectives also learned that numerous chainsaws were reported stolen from the company’s trucks between Nov. 21 and Nov. 26, 2018, along South Gulph Road in Upper Merion, according to the criminal complaint. Detectives suspected whoever took the tools knew the whereabouts of the trucks and knew how to access locked compartments to retrieve the tools.

“Argenis Picon was a past employee for Asplundh and was terminated in March 2018. The random thefts of tools started soon after the termination,” Kennedy alleged. “It was clear to management from Asplundh and police investigators that the person responsible for stealing the tools and equipment were familiar with their storage placement.”

In December 2018, investigators became aware of various tree trimming tools that matched the descriptions of those stolen from Asplundh were being sold online by someone using Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, according to the arrest affidavit.

Detectives subsequently linked the online accounts to Picon and arranged an undercover operation to purchase some of the tools, according to court papers. Picon was taken into custody on Feb. 25, 2019, in Philadelphia when he showed up at an agreed upon location to sell one of the stolen saws to an undercover agent, court documents indicate.

When detectives searched Picon’s residence and his vehicle they uncovered other tools reported stolen from the Asplundh work trucks.

“Picon acknowledged he was stealing from Asplundh trucks and said he ‘did a lot.’ Picon said he stole the tools to make money to purchase heroin,” Kennedy alleged. “Additionally, Picon would use various platforms to re-sell the tools to make a cash profit to support his drug addiction.”

Other charges of receiving stolen property and theft by unlawful taking were dismissed against Picon as part of the plea agreement.

comments powered by Disqus