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Gilroy Police Chief Faces Discipline After Truck With Gun, Badge Stolen

GILROY (KPIX 5) – The chief of police in Gilroy had some explaining to do this week after his gun, badge and work laptop were all stolen from his truck last Friday.

The chief's personal truck was stolen at Modesto Junior College with all three items still inside the vehicle.

He could be punished for breaking the law.

When he spoke with KPIX 5 Thursday, Gilroy Police Chief Scot Smithee said he was not making excuses.

"It's obviously embarrassing. I'm standing here talking to you on the news so," said Smithee, laughing nervously.

The theft happened last Friday as the chief was heading to a graduation in Modesto, he didn't have time to drop off his equipment and switch out of his personal vehicle, a white 2006 Ford F-250.

When he got to the graduation, security was making everyone go through metal detectors.

"I was concerned that if security stopped me and pointed it out in front of other people, that I would be…people would recognize that I did have a weapon and that they were sending me back to put it away," said Smithee.

When asked how the gun was it stored, the chief replied, "It was buried in the bottom of the center console. And then the truck was locked with the alarm turned on."

California State Law says a gun left unattended in a vehicle must be locked in a trunk or in a lockbox. The lockbox can either be permanently attached to the car or not, but it must be out of plain view.

Violations can result in a citation and up to a $1,000 fine.

Chief Smithee's pickup did not have trunk. He said he previously tried to install a lockbox.

"I tried to put one in there, but it didn't fit," Smithee.

When the chief came out, the truck was gone, along with his gun, badge, work laptop and an iPad.

A few days later, deputies say they spotted a suspect -- 36-year-old Louis Grubeck of Modesto -- getting into the stolen truck and arrested him.

They did not find the stolen gun or any of the other missing items.

Chief Smithee is trying to remain philosophical about the loss.

"Sometimes things happen that we don't want or expect, but we can't change it," said Smithee. "We just have to deal with it and move on."

The city is hiring an independent 3rd party to investigate the chief to see if he violated any department policies. If he did, he could face some kind of punishment.

The goal is to make sure the chief does not get special treatment.

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