Not guilty plea in propane theft

A 29-year-old Elma man pleaded not guilty Monday to charges he stole eight propane tanks and head-butted a police car.

Harley J. Harmon pleaded not guilty to second-degree burglary and third-degree malicious mischief in Grays Harbor Superior Court.

He’s accused of stealing eight propane tanks used to power fork lifts from The Warm Company in Elma on June 26. According to court documents, an employee responded to an alarm early June 27 in a water pump building.

Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s deputies contacted a 38-year-old woman who claimed her boyfriend, Harmon, forced her to come with him to the business “to go check and see what doors had been left open,” according to charging documents. Police reports noted the woman claimed he threatened her children if she refused to help.

She told police she saw him take the tanks and go to a small shed to take batteries. She said he cut one free but an alarm went off after he cut the wires for a second, and they both fled. Police confirmed the battery wires had been cut.

When deputies contacted Harmon, he allegedly acknowledged the tanks were in the house but claimed his girlfriend was setting him up.

Police recovered the tanks, and “they also found a glass jar containing a clear liquid which smelled of gasoline over a semi-white-colored solid,” according to charging documents.

The girlfriend told police Harmon was trying to make a bomb. When police arrested Harmon, he resisted, eventually head-butting a patrol car and denting the door. Repair costs are estimated at $537.

The woman has since obtained a restraining order against the man and is not currently facing charges in this case, police reported.