Man arrested for stealing car wash vacuum sentenced
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Man arrested for stealing car wash vacuum sentenced

Jun 10, 2023

Jeremy Allen Wunderlich. (Photo courtesy the Flathead County Sheriff's Office)

A Valier man arrested last year after allegedly hauling off a Kalispell car wash's vacuum and later abandoning it earned six years in Montana State Prison last week.

Flathead County District Court Judge Heidi Ulbricht handed down a pair of three-year sentences for felony criminal mischief and theft to Jeremy Allen Wunderlich, 40, on June 1. Allen, who initially maintained his innocence, struck a plea deal with prosecutors in January that took into account a second, later case that saw him facing two felony counts of burglary.

Authorities began searching for Wunderlich on April 15, 2022 after employees with the car wash reported the theft of an industrial vacuum cleaner, according to court documents. The workers handed the Kalispell Police Department surveillance footage showing a man hop out of a green Chevrolet pickup truck with out-of-state license plates and attach a tow strap to the vacuum.

Using the tow strap to pull the vacuum off of its bolts, the man placed the piece of equipment in the truck bed and drove off, court documents said.

Investigators recovered the "heavily damaged" vacuum near the Stillwater River access off of Conrad Drive later that day.

Police officers also allegedly found Wunderlich, riding in a green Chevy pickup, on April 15. Along with a drill, broken drill bit, foil with residue, a pry tool and snort tube, investigators located a metal plate missing from the vacuum cleaner in the truck, court documents said.

In July of that year, Flathead County Sheriff's Office deputies investigating a break-in at a U.S. 93 South shop spotted Wunderlich on surveillance footage capturing the burglary, according to court documents. The recording showed Wunderlich and an accomplice allegedly loading up more than $13,000 in goods during the break-in, court documents said.

In January, Wunderlich agreed to plead guilty to all four felony counts in the two cases. According to the deal filed in district court, prosecutors agreed to recommend that Wunderlich serve three years on each of the counts, and all were to run concurrently with one another.

At Wunderlich's June 1 appearance in district court, though, Ulbricht opted to instead hand down consecutive sentences in the two cases, effectively adding three years onto the 40-year-old's prison stint. She also gave him credit for 307 days of time served.

News Editor Derrick Perkins can be reached at 758-4430 or [email protected].