A man from Chetek is free on bond pending a Jan. 31, 2023, court appearance on charges he allegedly tried to steal two vehicles from a downtown Chetek gas station, and damaged the gas pumps while doing so, according to Barron County Circuit court records.
The defendant is identified as Daniel D. Richie, 28, 1139 Knapp St., Chetek. He made his first appearance in court after being booked into the county jail on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023.
The complaint charges the defendant with operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent, three counts of criminal damage to property, and tampering with a global positioning tracking device.
According to the complaint, an employee at the Cenex gas station in Chetek called police just after 7 a.m. Dec. 15, 2022, to report someone had tried to drive away in a customer’s 2002 Toyota Tundra and had damaged some gas pumps in the process.
The caller said there was surveillance video of the attempted theft, which took place between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. that morning. The officer watched the video, which showed a man enter the co-op parking lot and get into a late model Oldsmobile Bravada.
But the vehicle wouldn’t start, so the intruder went to the truck sitting next to it, which the owner had left there the previous night with the keys still in it. The suspect started the Tundra and backed it up, striking a gas pump. As he pulled away, the hose from the gas pump caught on the truck bumper which, in turn, broke the service panel in the front of the gas pump.
At one point, the intruder fell to the ground after getting out of the truck, and remained there for several minutes before leaving the area.
The officer contacted a nearby bar owner who provided additional surveillance video that apparently showed the same man in the bar earlier that evening. A bartender told the officer that the suspect, later identified as the defendant, was on house arrest because she had seen him wearing an ankle bracelet.
On Dec. 19 a second bartender at the same establishment allegedly identified the defendant as her next-door neighbor. She provided additional details about the defendant’s ankle monitor.
The officer contacted a company that monitors the device, and the company reported getting no GPS signal from the monitor on the night of the attempted theft.
The investigation showed both vehicles involved in the incident had been damaged. The Bravada sustained an estimated $2,500 in damages, and the owner reported there were gift cards missing from the vehicle.
Damage to the Tundra truck was estimated at just under $675, and Synergy Co-op estimated damages to its equipment at $2,233
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