Two men charged in Superior apartment complex theft

Cash from laundry machines was taken in what police reports indicate was an inside job.


Two men who allegedly conspired to steal $9,000 from an apartment complex in the city of Superior made their initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court Friday, Jan. 15

Benjamin Michael Volkmuth, 47, of Superior faces one count of felony theft-business setting and one misdemeanor count of obstructing an officer. Ryan Anthony Katzmark, 39, of Summit, faces one felony count of party to theft-business setting and a misdemeanor count of false emergency phone use.

A $5,000 signature bond was set for each man, with the condition that they have no contact with each other or the business. Volkmuth was ordered to give his keys to the business to the police department.

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According to the criminal complaints, Volkmuth worked as a maintenance worker at the apartment complex on Clough Avenue where the theft occurred. He came up with the idea of taking the money from an unlocked safe on the property and asked Katzmark to help stage a burglary by calling in a false 911 report.

Superior police were called to the apartment complex on Jan. 11, when it was reported that $9,000 in cash had been stolen. The money was from the token system used for doing laundry on-site. Officer Charles Mahlen observed that Volkmuth, who was present, appeared nervous and followed him around during the investigation, at times standing uncomfortably close to the officer.

Volkmuth admitted to Mahlen that it was his job to keep track of the money and that he had already touched the window in the office and removed the screen before officers arrived. He told Detective Sean Holmgren that he had checked the window before officers arrived and his footprints would be in the snow outside it, but denied taking the money.

Shortly after 10 p.m. Jan. 10, Katzmark had called 911 to report seeing a heavy set man dressed in black coming out of the window near the skywalk of the building, which would have been the office window, but the officer who responded did not find anyone present at the scene.

Volkmuth’s phone was forensically searched with his consent, and detectives were able to retrieve a deleted call history that showed a number of phone calls between Volkmuth and Katzmark, including on the night of the burglary.

When questioned by Holmgren, Katzmark admitted the burglary had been staged. He said that Volkmuth had complained of financial issues and described the plan as “foolproof.” Volkmuth was going to leave the window open and asked Katzmark to call 911 between 10-11 p.m. to report seeing someone come out of the apartment complex window.

If convicted, the theft charge carries a maximum penalty of six years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Preliminary hearings for both men were set for Feb. 3.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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