DPS: Crime Lab employee arrested, accused of stealing rifle magazines, ammo from storage

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Officials with the Arizona Department of Public Safety announced Tuesday the arrest of an employee accused of stealing ammunition and firearm accessories from a storage facility at the DPS Crime Lab.

According to a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the suspect, identified as 52-year-old Todd Whittard, was arrested at his home in Chandler, and booked into the 4th Avenue Jail on charges of theft, forgery, and fraudulent schemes and artifices. Whittard was assigned by DPS officials to oversee the Latent Prints and Firearms Units within the DPS Crime Lab.

An investigation and internal audit into Whittard, according to DPS officials, began in September of 2018, after he was seen, on a number of occasions, removing rifle magazines, ammunition, and other firearm accessories from the DPS Crime Lab's non-evidentiary storage facility.

"The employee that brought it to the attention of their chain of command felt comfortable this leadership group would do something about it," said DPS Director Colonel Frank Milstead, during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Whittard, officials said, will conceal the items either within his pocket or within a bag to take the items to his office, and on the day of his arrest, Whittard was seen in his office with a canvas bag containing rifle magazines and ammunition taken from the storage facility. He was later seen taking the bag from his office to his truck, and then leaving the DPS facility with them.

"We, subsequently last night, arrested one of our employees from the Laboratories Service Bureau," said Col. Milstead.

Whittard was reportedly employed by DPS for 25 years.

"Anytime one of our employees sinks to a level that would tarnish this organization, we all feel somewhat betrayed," said Col. Milstead. "Whatever's going on in his personal life that justified him thinking this was OK to do, I don't know."

DPS officials said they were able to recover at least the items they saw Whittard take on Monday. Whittard appeared in court for the first time on Tuesday. Meanwhile, FOX 10's Matt Rodewald tried to reach Whittard at his home in Chandler, but no one answered the door.

With concerns over stolen ammunition getting into the wrong hands, officials with Valley pawn shops said they take a lot of precaution.

"We only buy ammunition if it's full or in the original box," said Byron Vaughn, General Manager of Mo Money Pawn Shop. "You kind of get that spidey sense going on where you know, you just get a feeling about it."