Records: Crime caught on store surveillance video

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids developer has been charged with stealing over $2,000 of goods from a home improvement store in Marion.

Eric Gutschmidt, 39, was charged in Linn County District Court last month with second-degree theft, a felony, according to a criminal complaint. He is accused of committing a “series” of thefts — six separate incidents — over the course of three days from March 5 through March 7 at Menards, 200 Menard Lane, in Marion.

Gutschmidt was arraigned this week and pleaded not guilty to the charge. His trial is set for April 2. He didn’t respond Friday afternoon to a message from The Gazette seeking comment.

According to the complaint, Gutschmidt took 57 packages of vinyl floor planks and three packages of floor tiles from the store without paying for the items, valued at $2,338. He initially was identified as the suspect because he provided his name and phone number for a different order of items he placed on the day the first theft occurred, the complaint stated.

Police have photo and video evidence from the store’s surveillance system, according to the complaint. The suspect’s vehicle was registered to Gutschmidt and the store’s photo and video “clearly” showed the suspect as Gutschmidt, the complaint stated.

Gutschmidt entered the Menards through the rear large-item pick up area, where he picked up his paid order, according to the complaint. While in the store, he also removed the unpaid items and went through the pickup area, placing them in his vehicle, the record states.

According to the complaint, Gutschmidt, during a phone call with police, denied any “wrong doing.”

Gutschmidt’s company, Gutschmidt Properties, is working over the next two years to create “Rainbow Road” on M Street SW between 10th and 12th avenues in Cedar Rapids — a block where properties were destroyed by the 2008 flood. The City Council approved financial incentives in October and signed off Nov. 7 on a development agreement with Gutschmidt’s company.

Gutschmidt Properties is transforming the block on M Street SW between 10th and 12th avenues in Cedar Rapids into “Rainbow Road,” a string of 10 houses that will be painted the colors of the rainbow as a symbol of LGBTQ inclusion. The project received public incentives from the city. (Courtesy of Gutschmidt Properties)

“The City is following the legal proceedings and will examine any potential impacts,” the city said in a statement when asked about the criminal case.

The financial incentives will support 15 units on five lots — five single-family homes with two accessory dwelling units on each property, totaling a $4 million investment. The city is kicking in a 100 percent reimbursement of the increased taxes the project generates, up to a net present value of $400,000 or 20 consecutive annual payments.

Guschmidt Properties also received American Rescue Plan Act funds of $250,000 from the Linn County Board of Supervisors in 2022 for an application to address housing needs.

“We are conducting an internal review to determine the appropriate next steps in this situation,” the Board of Supervisors said in a statement.

If convicted, Gutschmidt faces up to five years in prison.

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