State trooper theft victim identified as details emerge
Investigators have recovered the Sig Sauer patrol rifle that was stolen early Tuesday morning from a Vermont State Police cruiser, VSP spokesperson Adam Silverman reported to media at 4:38 PM today.
Acting on information provided by the public, on Thursday morning, Oct. 19, VSP troopers from the Shaftsbury Barracks and game wardens from the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife began searching pull-offs along U.S. Route 7 in Bennington County. During the early afternoon hours, the rifle was located abandoned in a pull-off in the vicinity of Exit 3 in Arlington.
Meanwhile, the state police has continued to investigate the circumstances surrounding the theft of the patrol rifle and VSP cruiser early Tuesday. Uniformed troopers in VSP’s Field Force Division are assigned take-home cruisers. Secure storage racks for police-issued firearms, including the Sig Sauer Model 400 .223-caliber patrol rifle, are installed in these cruisers.
State police policy provides that anytime a cruiser is left unattended, the vehicle must be locked with the windows secured. In this case, VSP investigators have been unable to determine whether the cruiser was locked when it was parked overnight in a parking lot in direct sight from Cpl. Christopher Loyzelle’s residence in Rutland. The cruiser was left in this location after Loyzelle had gone off duty at 2 a.m. Tuesday.
Police are continuing to investigate precisely how the suspect made entry into the cruiser. A key to the cruiser, a fully marked 2021 Ford SUV, had been left inside the vehicle. The ignition was not damaged and does not appear to have been bypassed.
Gun racks inside cruisers are secured independently and cannot be accessed with a vehicle key. The patrol rifle was locked in the storage rack in accordance with VSP policy. The rack and locking mechanism were damaged during the theft of the rifle. As is standard practice when a rifle is carried securely in a cruiser, a magazine with ammunition was loaded in the rifle.
Following the theft of the cruiser, the suspect eventually abandoned the vehicle outside Belden’s Construction in Rutland City, where an employee discovered the SUV and alerted state police at about 7 a.m.
Cpl. Loyzelle’s duty status is unchanged. The state police is continuing to investigate all circumstances surrounding this incident.