Local actor booked on theft charges

Local actor Michael Birkeland, who has appeared many times in LDS-targeted movies, was arrested on charges stemming from the theft of a laptop from a UVU art instructor.

Birkeland, 36, who has appeared in locally filmed movies such as “The Singles Ward,” “Church Ball” and “The Home Teachers,” was booked into the Utah County Jail on Fri. July 11 on one count of felony theft. He posted $3,000 bail on Mon. July 14.
The MacBook Pro laptop was reported stolen in April, and police had been trying to catch up with the suspect since then.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Provo’s 4th District Court, Birkeland attended an art class at UVU April 3 as the guest of a class model. While visiting the class, Birkeland was seen using an instructor’s computer, which came up missing after he left the classroom, the court documents said.

He was caught after the built-in camera on the laptop was able capture Birkeland logged onto Skype, software that allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet. The instructor was able to recognize and identify the actor from the camera. E-mails and phone calls were sent to Birkeland, after which he covered the camera in an attempt to cover up his identity.

University Police were finally able to track the suspect to a residence in Orem where he was taken into custody without incident on July 11. The MacBook Pro laptop is valued at $2,128. The laptop was recovered in the gift shop at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, where police believe the laptop was left by Birkeland, who chose to not return it directly to the owner.

Birkeland was also arrested in August 2007 on seven charges,
including speeding, driving with a suspended license and failure to appear in court. His first court appearance for the theft charges was scheduled for July 21.

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