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Two arrested for stealing from MHS Pepsi machines

Two men were arrested Feb. 20 for attempting to steal money from a Pepsi machine at Mitchell High School.

Jason Toulouse, 36, of Mitchell, and William Leith, 31, of Whitewood, were both arrested for attempted third-degree burglary, which carries a maximum five-year prison term and a $10,000 fine.

Pepsi Distribution Center management officials informed the Mitchell Police Division earlier this month that money was taken from Pepsi vending machines around Mitchell, including one at the Ramada Inn. They specifically named Toulouse, who is an employee with Pepsi, but is currently suspended, according to court documents. Pepsi management asked the police to keep an eye out for Toulouse around any Pepsi machines in Mitchell.

On Feb. 20, Officer Russ Stevenson saw a white Ford Windstar minivan parked at Mitchell High School at 5:17 a.m. It was registered to Leith. Stevenson approached a man who had exited the vehicle and was at the north doors of the building.

The man was Toulouse, who told Stevenson he works for Pepsi and was there to maintain the vending machines. He was carrying vending a machine fob and keys.

Stevenson found Leith sitting in the van in possession of 25 $1 bills.

Through more investigation, Stevenson discovered two males had entered the Ramada Inn on Feb. 19 and opened the Pepsi machines.

During a police interview, Leith denied any wrongdoing, stating he and Toulouse were going to get breakfast when they stopped at the high school so Toulouse could talk to a Pepsi employee there.

Toulouse, however, told police during an interview that Leith said he needed money and had asked Toulouse to steal money from vending machines. Toulouse said he showed Leith how to use the keys to enter the machines, which Leith did at the Ramada, Toulouse told police.

Leith was also going to enter Mitchell High School to steal money from those machines, but asked Toulouse to do so because he wore clothing bearing Pepsi logos.