Rick J. Nichols

OREM — Saratoga Springs police arrested a Utah Department of Corrections officer last week after a nearly weeklong investigation of an alleged theft.

Utah Department of Corrections Sgt. Rick J. Nichols, 48, of Eagle Mountain was arrested Friday morning for investigation of the alleged theft of a wallet containing more than $1,000, though the entire amount was handed back to police.

Early last week a woman called the police to report a missing wallet, Saratoga Springs Police Chief Gary Hicken said. The woman said she had been shopping at a number of locations during the day but believed she had left her wallet on a drink stand at the Smith's grocery store in Saratoga Springs. The woman told police she contacted each of the stores she had visited that day, but none had her wallet.

The same day, a worker found the wallet while emptying a post office box outside the Albertsons in Lehi, Hicken said. The woman reported that nothing was missing from her wallet except $1,140 cash. She was carrying around the large amount of cash in her wallet in preparation for a surgery she would have the following day.

Hicken said Smith's officials reviewed video of the aisle where the woman thought she left the wallet. The woman was seen on the tape setting her wallet down.

"Within about five minutes," Hicken said, "a uniformed officer came over and picked it up and walked away with it."

Hicken said the description of the officer was fairly distinctive, and after contacting a number of agencies in the area, his department came up with Nichols as a suspect. Before police were able to make an arrest, however, Nichols showed up at the Saratoga Springs Police Department with the cash in hand.

Hicken said Nichols told police he had been unable to bring the money to police until Friday. Hicken said Nichols admitted to finding the wallet, dropping the wallet in the mailbox and taking the cash, but he said Nichols did not admit to stealing the money.

Angie Welling, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Corrections, confirmed that Nichols has been employed by the department since 1996 and worked as a sergeant in a housing unit. She said the department was looking into the incident and that appropriate action would be taken.

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