Skip to main content

Employee caught stealing snap shackles

The theft almost put Tylaska Marine Hardware in Connecticut out of business, says the owner

When police arrived at Kenneth Whitman’s Waterford, Conn., home last March with a search warrant, they seemingly walked in on all the evidence they needed.

Whitman was allegedly holding a box of stolen goods he was preparing to ship to an online buyer, according to Mike Tylaska, Whitman’s former employer.

Whitman, 52, was sentenced Dec. 31 in New London (Conn.) Superior Court to three months in prison for larceny in the first degree for selling stolen goods on eBay. Whitman was also instructed to pay $132,000 in restitution to Tylaska, owner of the of marine hardware manufacturing company where he used to work.

Each week from February to August 2007, Whitman allegedly stole between 20 and 30 snap shackles from Tylaska Marine Hardware in Mystic, Conn., court papers say. Whitman stole about 1,000 of the shackles in total, according to Tylaska.

The company’s Web site,, values the items at between $100 and $400, depending on what the shackle is made of, the design and how much weight it can hold. Snap shackles are links, usually made of stainless steel or aluminum, that connect ropes or wires to sails, or chain cable to an anchor.

“The restitution only covers a small portion of the damage,” says Tylaska, 44, who has been in business for 14 years. “Meanwhile we had to do everything we could to stay in business. The cost to replicate what was stolen — we almost had to pay for it twice.”

Whitman worked at Tylaska Marine Hardware for two years.

“I treated him really well; he was the foreman in charge of production,” says Tylaska. “I wouldn’t have picked him for that if I didn’t trust him.”

Tylaska first started noticing items missing in February 2007. Whitman quit in August 2007 after it became evident that merchandise was disappearing on a regular basis.

“I couldn’t prove anything until he started selling the items on eBay in February 2008,” says Tylaska. Whitman’s company through eBay, Sea Horse, got rave reviews from customers — understandable since he was selling the new products for a fourth of the original cost, Tylaska says.

Tylaska says he owes his thanks to his loyal customers — locally and overseas — who helped the company stay in business.

“We managed to not go under because of our loyal customers who helped us through that tough time.”

This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue.