Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Dec. 4, 2000

Howard Lake burglaries solved, seven to be charged for thefts

By Lynda Jensen

A string of burglaries this fall in Howard Lake appears to be solved following the execution of three search warrants coordinated by local law enforcement agencies.

Searches of two Howard Lake residences and one Annandale residence turned up about 150 bottles of hard liquor, stereo equipment, Carhartt jackets and other miscellaneous items, said Lieutenant Scott Halonen of the Wright County Sheriff's Office.

The items were reported missing from the Country Store and former Sand Bar and Grill, both in Howard Lake, during break-ins in October, Halonen said.

Other items were also recovered that are associated with a crime spree in Annandale, when a vast number of thefts from vehicles were reported September through October, Halonen said.

Seven people are expected to be charged in connection with the burglaries: three Howard Lake men, one Annandale man, one Annandale woman, one Howard Lake female juvenile and one man with an unknown address. The names will not be released until charges are made.

The charges will range from felony theft to burglary charges, said Annandale Police Chief Jeff Herr.

The suspects will appear in Wright County District Court, Buffalo, in the next few months or so, Herr said.


Fall crime spree ends

It started with a burglary at the Country Store in Howard Lake Sept. 28. Items taken at the time were clothing, tools, and cash, Halonen said.

"We were experiencing some car thefts," Howard Lake Police Chief Mike Simmons commented, although he indicated that both the Annandale Police Department and sheriff's office primarily handled the investigation. "Annandale was instrumental in pursuing the case," he said.

Four days later, the Country Store was hit again when thieves entered and took more clothing including Carhartt winter jackets.

During the early part of October, the thieves obtained entry through the back door of the former Sand Bar and Grill, which has been closed for some time, and took several bottles of hard liquor.

The thieves came back and took more liquor during a second break-in there, Halonen said.

The Annandale Police Department received information that led to a search warrant at a residence on Oak Avenue in Annandale, Halonen said.

The search revealed tools, compact discs, radio equipment, clothing, and several bottles of hard liquor, along with some beer. "Primarily liquor - and lots of it," Halonen said.

This matched the list of items stolen from the Howard Lake businesses, Simmons said.

Further investigation led the authorities to two more search warrants served in Howard Lake Oct. 30.

The first residence searched was 924 11th Ave. (Lot 8), Howard Lake. The search recovered clothing with the Carhartt label and compact discs, Halonen said.

The second search at 601 Ninth Street, Howard Lake, revealed more clothing and compact discs, Halonen said.

Due to the number of people involved and paper work required, it is hard to gauge when the suspects will go to court, Halonen said.

"The paper work is going to the county attorney's office," Halonen said. The sheriff's office has been collecting additional evidence and interviewing witnesses.

Previously, two of the suspects were hard to locate, which slowed the investigation down a bit, Halonen said.

Most of the stolen property has been returned to the owners, with the exception of the cash, Halonen said.

Halonen credited Annandale Police Chief Jeff Herr and Detective Matt Walker of the sheriff's office for doing the lion's share of the investigation, with others assisting, he said.

Herr helped write the Howard Lake warrants, which led to solving the burglaries there and the pending charges.

"It was a good example of a cooperative effort between two agencies," Halonen said.

"We're thankful," Simmons said of the cooperation among the agencies.

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