PITTSFIELD -- City Clerk Linda Tyer is praising the work of Pittsfield police in quickly arresting a custodian after small amounts of cash were discovered missing from her office cash drawer in August.

"The Pittsfield Police did an amazing job," Tyer said.

The investigation involved police placing a hidden infrared camera inside the vault in the clerk's office, where the cash drawer is kept overnight. The man charged was recorded inside the vault several days after the initial report of a theft, according to police affidavits.

"They showed me a video," Tyer said Monday, "and it was a shock to see someone inside our vault -- and then it was a relief to know that this had been resolved."

A former city custodian, Michael A Hubby Jr., 30, of Sutton Street in North Adams, pleaded guilty in Central Berkshire District Court in late November to three counts of breaking into a depository and two counts of larceny from a building.

Judge Paul Vrabel continued the case without a finding and later dismissed the charges at the recommendation of the Probation Department after restitution was made. Hubby paid $305 restitution.

According to police reports, they were called to the clerk's office on Aug. 23 after the cash drawer was found to be short by $65. Officers suggested using a hidden camera to gather evidence, and Tyer agreed.

The unit was installed inside the vault, which has a combination lock. The camera, placed Aug. 27 by Technical Service Officer Jason Breault, recorded on Aug. 30 a male holding a flashlight and standing in the vault door. The man was identified as Hubby.

"I'm pretty happy about that investigation," Police Chief Michael J. Wynn said. "Once the office controls detected that it was not [a clerical error], we knew we needed to come up with something creative. I give all the credit to Officer Breault and Investigator Tyrone Price."

While police have used cameras to catch individuals engaged in illegal dumping outdoors, Wynn said this case marked the first indoor operation involving an infrared camera to gather evidence.

"We knew immediately that there was a theft," Tyer said. "We have really good internal auditing. We have a lot of cash transactions."

What has changed, she said, is the combination of the vault where the cash drawer is kept. "I don't think it had changed since before I came here in 2009," she said.

Now, Tyer said, the combination will be changed according to a regular schedule, and only certain personnel will have access.

"We had a successful partnership with the police, and I feel that might have presented a bigger theft," Tyer said. "This was a minimal amount of loss."

Wynn said that during their investigation police were told of suspected thefts of cash in other City Hall offices around the same time frame. But he said there was not enough information to provide conclusive proof that would result in charges.

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi also praised the response of the clerk's office and police. He said no specific changes were required in terms of security because of the theft.

However, Bianchi said the city's insurer will soon hold an informational session for city department managers and other employees on all types of security issues. That was prompted by an incident earlier this year when a person entered City Hall and allegedly made veiled threats against an employee.

To reach Jim Therrien:
jtherrien@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6247
On Twitter: @BE_therrien