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Judge suspends sentence, orders probation for local theft case

(File photo; Trevor T. Trujillo, Cap City)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Christopher Denke received a suspended sentence of two to four years on May 20 for felony theft. Judge Steven K. Sharp ordered Denke to serve three years of probation and pay $189 in restitution.

Denke pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft in January under a plea agreement, avoiding a potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The court dismissed a burglary charge at the preliminary hearing.

The case began on July 10, 2023, when Deputy Thomas Groendal responded to a larceny call on West College Drive. Larry Hankel, the owner of a local trucking company, reported that someone had broken into one of his box trucks over the weekend and stolen 10 rims. Hankel discovered the theft when he arrived at work and found the lock cut and the rims missing, according to the affidavit of probable cause.

Hankel contacted friends around town, including Lynda Peterson at Wyoming Salvage. Peterson informed Hankel that a man had brought in 10 rims earlier that day. The rims had markings matching those stolen from Hankel’s truck.

Deputy Groendal visited Wyoming Salvage and confirmed the rims matched Hankel’s description. Peterson provided a receipt with Denke’s name and ID number, along with a description of the transaction. Groendal used this information to find a booking photo of Denke from 2017, which Peterson identified as the man who brought in the rims.

The stolen rims included seven 11R22.5 and 11R24.5 rims, valued at $125 each, and three super single wheels, valued at $300 each, totaling $1,775. Lynda Peterson had paid Denke $189 for the rims.