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Anchorage man suspected in theft of ConocoPhillips computers believed to have fled state

Jerzy Shedlock

An informant implicating a former Anchorage computer technician as a low-level methamphetamine dealer led police and energy giant ConocoPhillips to discover the theft of more than three dozen computers from the company, according to a felony complaint filed last week.

Detectives were told by an apartment cleaner that the alleged culprit’s living space was littered with computer parts, weapons, and hundreds of packages of Spice, a designer drug marketed as synthetic marijuana.

The 37 laptop computers have an estimated value of $38,299. ConocoPhillips was apparently unaware of the missing hardware until Anchorage police started asking about Jason A. McDonald, the complaint says.

McDonald faces a first-degree theft charge, but police believe he’s left the state. An Anchorage Superior Court judge has issued an arrest warrant for him.

An investigation began when a former roommate of McDonald’s visited the Anchorage Police Department in February 2013. He told police the roomie was a “low level type meth dealer,” and said McDonald’s behavior was escalating due to heavy Spice and meth use; people had seen him with “sizeable amounts of product” at an apartment off of Lake Otis Parkway, the complaint says.

The man also told police McDonald was working for ConocoPhillips as a computer tech and was stealing laptops, the complaint says. An officer contacted the energy company, Alaska’s largest oil producer, and shared information about the thefts.

“At that time, ConocoPhillips was unaware of any missing laptops,” the complaint says.

More than a year later, the company’s security manager, former Department of Public Safety Commissioner Joe Masters, called police to report the theft of laptops and desktop computers. He said ConocoPhillips had a project that involved contracting technicians through Udelhoven Oilfield Services, and one of the contractor’s employees happened to be McDonald, the complaint says.

The contractor fired McDonald, and he stopped working at ConocoPhillips; he’d only been working there from October 2012 to February 2013, the complaint says.

A detective began compiling a list of the computers that were reported stolen. Then he checked pawnshops and discovered McDonald had traded a Hewlett Packard laptop for $150 in December 2012, the complaint says. That computer wasn’t on the list ConocoPhillips provided to police, and after another sweep the security head added the pawned laptop and two others to the list of missing property, the complaint says.

ConocoPhillips declined to comment on the incident or company security procedures.

In April, detectives went to McDonald’s apartment, but the person who answered the door told them he was long gone, probably in South Carolina, she said. The woman cleaned apartments for the landlord, and when she did so for McDonald’s apartment “there were computers and computer parts all over the place ... there were about 1,000 Spice packages all over the floor, guns, knives and ammunition,” she told the detectives.

There was also a box of computers the landlord moved to a garage, though upon closer inspection none were the missing ConocoPhillips hardware. However, McDonald has been charged with theft, as his presence at the company matched up with the last time the computers were accounted for, according to the complaint.