Prosecutors: Thieves steal $1M in hearing aids
A soon-to-be laid off worker at a hearing aid distributor allegedly took a little more severance than his employer bargained for: He''s charged with walking out with $1 million worth of products.
The Hennepin County Attorney's office charged the 56-year-old Bloomington man with stealing $1,069,275.09 worth of aids, parts and supplies from a Plymouth-based maker of the devices. Thyvuth Lin is charged with enlisting another man, Laden Hot, 20, and also of Bloomington, with re-selling the products over the Internet -- some of them on eBay.
The complaint says the pair were selling hearing aids worth up to $2,000 for as little as $150.
Police found Lin had worked at Siemens Hearing Instruments for 25 years and was laid off in August 2012: "Lin admitted... that he stole the hearing aids and components after learning he was going to be laid off from Siemens. He planned to make a living selling the parts on eBay," the criminal complaint against him said.
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The scheme came to light, according to the complaint, when Kirkland Signature branded hearing aids, meant for Costco stores, started coming back as warranty claims.
Costco called the maker, and found that the aids had already been sent back to Siemens as returned merchandise, and weren't to be resold. The complaint also says a Siemens executive bought some of the suspect hearing aids himself and found they didn't have serial numbers, suggesting they'd been taken from the production floor.
Authorities traced the internet sales back through eBay to Hot, then matched his address to Lin in a previous theft report to Bloomington Police. A search of their home found four beer cases containing hearing aids and parts and large quantities of cash.
Both men have been charged with theft. Lin is scheduled to make his first court appearance in Hennepin County District Court this afternoon. The Hennepin County Attorney's office says Hot skipped his first court appearance and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Here are the charges: