Equipment stolen from local candy manufacturer - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Equipment stolen from local candy manufacturer

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Production at Chattanooga's Wrigley candy plant was briefly interrupted when police say an employee at the facility stole equipment used to make gummy candies. But the worker was not able to make a sweet getaway. He was caught on camera and confessed to the crime.

Forty-one-year-old Mark Harvey of Dunlap is facing charges of theft and theft of trade secrets, meaning he stole something from Wrigley that is exclusive to the company. In this case, it was a large metal plate used to manufacture candy.

Police say Mark Harvey got sticky fingers last week while working in the Wrigley candy plant. Employees say the plant's security camera shows Harvey taking a 50 pound brass plate, worth $25,000, that is used to make a gummy candy. And with the plate gone, production had to stop. 

Wrigley would not confirm to Channel 3 what line of candy was affected, but we do know that Lifesavers are made at the plant. And they do come in a gummy variety.

Christa Culpepper and others we spoke with could only shake their heads hearing news of the theft. 

"I think it's sad that they might have to stop production because of somebody stealing that to try to make a buck," said Culpepper.

"Well, I'm sorry he was desperate enough to steal something. That sort of says a lot about our times," said one woman.

One retired middle school teacher says she is all too familiar with the Wrigley brand.

"I am used to candy because of that. And usually it's Wrigley stuck under desks, but that's okay, too," she said with a laugh.

When police confronted Harvey at the plant, he admitted to being the candy plate culprit. He told them he sold the plate to 'All Green Recycle' in Soddy-Daisy.

A 2008 state law requires scrap metal companies to check ID, ask questions about the material to see if it raises suspicion, and even get a thumb print of the seller.

When we stopped by All Green, the owner declined to talk to Channel 3 on camera. A worker in the office said the plate was returned to Wrigley.

"That's very commendable for them. Because they could have just melted it down, I guess, or sold it for the money."

When asked for comment, a spokesperson at Wrigley said: "We are operating as normal. We are complying with local authorities in Chattanooga to handle the incident and won't comment on an open investigation."

Harvey is being held on a $20,000 bond. If convicted, the punishment for theft of trade secrets, ranges from paying a fine to time behind bars. He goes before a judge October 7th.

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