A Billings man attempted to sell $2,700 worth of stolen Griz home game football tickets from a season ticket holder, according to Missoula police. But fans might not know if they’ve purchased a stolen ticket.
Levi Hoerner, posing as Levi McConnell, sold the tickets at above-market prices on Facebook Marketplace, according to Detective Becky Patton from the Missoula Police Department. A man who had purchased tickets from Hoerner called the UM Box Office anonymously to see if the deal was too good to be true. This tipped off the official UM ticket seller, said box office manager Celine Fisher.
“We do research. We can tell the gate they went in, what time it was scanned. But the person that stole them, they usually don’t go sit in the seats. They just want a ticket in.”
The tickets were mailed to the home address of a season ticket holder in Missoula. Hoerner could have sold a total of 48 tickets, eight for each home game, and three parking tickets, according to Patton.
A Missoula woman purchased tickets from Hoerner for the first home game, but didn’t know they were stolen. When her ticket’s barcode was scanned, she was stopped at the gate, said Fisher.
Hoerner can’t be charged with a felony relating to stealing mail because there isn’t a way to verify if the tickets were taken from the mailbox, Patton said. But both Missoula and Billings police have issued arrest warrants. Patton said the Missoula warrant is for possession of stolen property and for theft of a victim, referring to the woman stopped at the gate who was scammed out of $240.
“When you come to our venue, you get in with your tickets. If you leave, you have a stamp and you still have your ticket. When you come back, you better have that ticket and your stamp or they won’t let you back in,” Fisher said. “We have our scanners and they do work.”
Unlike general seating or student tickets, season tickets are physical copies. Fisher said season ticket holders either pick them up at the Box Office or have them mailed in a large envelope, which puts them at risk of being stolen. She said ticket theft hasn’t been common. Only one other incident occurred this year, when a man’s car was broken into in Great Falls. When season tickets are reported stolen, the Box Office can invalidate barcodes for that section and reissue new tickets, Fisher said. Barcode scanners were introduced in 2006 to prevent void tickets at the gates. When fans buy tickets from a third party, they can verify them by calling the Box Office.