MEDINA, Ohio—A store manager at Smetzer's Tire Center in Medina, Ohio, has been accused of stealing more than $100,000 worth of tires and other goods and services from the company. Medina police arrested David C. Peters, 39, of West Salem, Ohio, for allegedly selling or trading tires stolen from the dealership for goods and services and purchasing items for personal use through the dealership's charge accounts.
Mr. Peters is free on personal recognizance bond and was scheduled to be arraigned July 16 in Medina County Common Pleas Court.
Medina Police Detective Scott Thomas told Tire Business Mr. Peters worked for the dealership about three years. For the past two, he had allegedly ordered building supplies, a trailer and computer equipment from area merchants through Smetzer Tire accounts, created fictitious customer accounts to hide the transactions, then disposed of invoices when they arrived.
Mr. Thomas said Mr. Peters even bought about $40,000 worth of go-carts for his own company, DNS Competition Karting, through Smetzer Tire. He also allegedly traded stolen tires for some computer equipment from a local school system, the detective said.
``We knew something was going on,'' said Owner and President Ken Smetzer. But he said he was preoccupied with construction of a new building and switching from Oliver Rubber Co.'s retread system to Michelin's system.
Mr. Smetzer said his accountant found the errors about three months ago while switching Smetzer Tire's records to a new computer system.
Mr. Peters was fired after admitting he stole a set of tires and put them on his van, Mr. Thomas said. Once Mr. Peters was gone, the detective said, past-due invoices began to arrive at Smetzer's Tire and police were able to piece together what happened. A search of the suspect's home and trailer uncovered some of the stolen items.
Mr. Thomas said the suspect was convicted in 1989 for stealing from another tire dealership in northeast Ohio, was placed on probation and ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution.
Mr. Smetzer wouldn't comment on specifics of the case because his business has filed a civil suit against Mr. Peters to recover the losses. However, he acknowledged not paying enough attention to his firm's financial details.
``We were kind of letting things go,'' he said. ``Then it hit us.''
``You really have to do a background check on employees, especially your managers,'' said Mr. Thomas, adding that Smetzer's Tire was unaware of the suspect's prior record when he was hired.
Mr. Smetzer urged other dealers to ``stay involved'' with the details of the business. ``Keep your nose in everything.''