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Officers suspended for thefts at garage

Two Tampa police officers were suspended without pay Monday after investigators determined they were stealing batteries and tires from the Police Department's garage. In addition, Officers Glen Holton and Jimmy Caplinger, both traffic accident investigators, steered business to two towing companies in return for used cars, engines, radios and, in one instance, a paint job, police officials said.

Both Holton, 35, and Caplinger, 37, can have their cases heard before a review board. Police Chief A.C. McLane is expected to announce his decision on discipline for the officers within 10 days, officials said. One option is dismissal.

The internal affairs file on the incident was reviewed by Assistant State Attorney John Skye. Even though both officers admitted to wrongdoing, the prosecutor decided there was not enough evidence to criminally charge the two.

Internal affairs detectives began investigating the case in November after a co-worker told his supervisor that he thought the two officers were involved in something suspicious.

After further investigation, detectives interviewed the two officers and confronted them with the allegations. Both admitted in part to the accusations, although each tried to place blame on the other, officials said.

In sworn testimony, Holton said he and his partner often spent only a few hours of their shift doing police work. They spent the other hours visiting the towing companies _ Olivieri's Body Shop and Mitchell's Wrecker Service _ conversing with the employees and making deals on cars or auto parts, Holton told investigators.

Wrecker companies normally are placed on a rotation list for accidents so that each company gets equal business. However, Caplinger and Holton ignored the rotation list and called either of the two companies, investigators said.

Investigators also learned that Caplinger, an eight-year veteran of the force, once found a box of tools by the roadside and kept it without making out a report. In another case, Caplinger got a battery from the city's garage and sold it to a co-worker for $20, according to authorities.

"I told (Caplinger) once, I said, "Look Jim, you're gonna get in trouble doing this .

.

. and I said, "Let's just cut it out.' He said, "Oh, they'll never find out,'

" Holton said during one interview with investigators.

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