Seth Cook at initial appearances 2/13/2023 (Gregory Hirst, Oil City News)

CASPER, Wyo. — Casper police say that over the course of a year, a Bar Nunn man shoplifted about $4,000 in video game controllers and vacuum cleaners from retail stores. 

Seth Cook, 27, was arrested at his Bar Nunn residence on Saturday, Feb. 11, and appeared in Natrona County Circuit Court on Monday.

In addition to two counts of grand theft, Cook is also charged with attempting to pick the lock of a Fox Hill apartment storage unit on Thursday, Feb. 9, two days before his arrest. Police say they found lock picks and burglary tools at the home. In Wyoming, possession of these tools is a felony punishable by up to three years in prison.

Bond was set at $20,000 cash or surety. Cook is presumed innocent until proven or pleading guilty.

On Dec. 12, 2022, Target store personnel contacted police to say that Cook was in the store actively concealing merchandise into a furniture set, according to an affidavit. Officers responded and arrested him on scene. He had a warrant in a previous shoplifting case. 

The Target employee told police she had seen Cook on camera over half a dozen times over the past year, often with another unidentified male, taking merchandise from the store. She said Cook can be seen in most cases using a magnetic key to defeat the locking peg of the merchandise-protecting glass. 

The incidents are alleged to have occurred Jan. 30, Feb. 2, June 26, June 27, twice on Nov. 12, and twice on Dec. 2 in 2022. In some incidents, Cook is alleged to have concealed the merchandise in baggy clothes. In others, police say he placed the merchandise in bags and walked out of the store. Cook is also said to have left the store wearing jeans taken from the clothing section, having changed into them in the dressing room.

Xbox and PlayStation controllers make up the majority of items Target reported stolen, according to the affidavit. A Shark AL vacuum and some Skull Candy headphones were also reportedly stolen.

On Dec. 20, an investigator determined that Cook had pawned three controllers at the nearby GameStop, the affidavit said. Two had already been sold.

The affidavit in the Target investigation was completed Feb. 11.

On Feb. 9, Casper police responded to the Fox Hill Apartments after a man reportedly interrupted a man trying to pick the lock to his storage unit. The reporting party said that the would-be burglar fled in a Honda Civic and that there was another man in the vehicle. He snapped a picture of the vehicle’s plates. 

Investigators recognized the vehicle’s registration as stolen. Police say Cook had successfully fled from police in the vehicle after a traffic stop on Jan. 8.

The reporting party identified Cook “quickly” from a photo lineup as the man he’d caught trying to enter his storage unit, according to the affidavit.

Later that day, a Best Buy employee contacted police to report a shoplifting.

That theft reportedly happened Jan. 5. The store provided photos and security footage of the incident. The evidence reportedly shows Cook taking three Dyson vacuum cleaners off the shelves. He reportedly walks out of the store into the mall interior with one vacuum, then returns several minutes later and walks out with the other two. 

The store employee also provided police with a photo of an unidentified man who had been with Cook in the car and in the store, according to the affidavit.

Police got a warrant for Cook and went to his residence in Bar Nunn on the morning of Feb. 11. In addition to the burglar’s tools and an unopened Dyson vacuum, police say they also found misdemeanor amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine. 

Cook was arrested and his girlfriend was also brought in for questioning. She reportedly told police that Cook had received the lockpick set as a gift and continually practiced picking locks at home.