Van stolen, windows broken

A Milaca man has been charged with stealing the van of his ex-girlfriend despite denying that he had anything to do with the theft.

James M. Anderson, 45, 210 Second St. SE, Milaca, has been charged in Mille Lacs County District Court with motor vehicle theft and receiving stolen property in connection with the incident. Both charges are felonies.

According to a criminal complaint, Anderson is accused of stealing the van around March 28 and breaking out all of its windows. A deputy drove by Anderson’s residence after receiving the complaint and observed two vans on the property — one with its windows broken out.

The owner of the van told investigators that she dropped the van off at a radiator repair shop near Princeton on March 18. While inside the shop, discussing repairs necessary for the vehicle, an alarm went off in the shop. The two looked outside and allegedly observed Anderson smashing out the windows and headlights of the van. He also punched holes in the hood of the van with a rod, the complaint alleges.

Anderson left the scene. The van owner then made arrangements with the repair shop owner to return later with a trailer and remove the van from the premise. When she returned, the shop owner said someone came and picked up the van. The van owner alleged that person was Anderson.

The repair shop owner said the person who took the van cleaned up all the broken glass before leaving his property, the complaint states.

Upon seeing a similar van at the Second Street address, the county deputy obtained a search warrant to seize the van from Anderson’s property. The license plates had been removed from the vehicle, the complaint states, and were located inside Anderson’s residence. There were several other items missing from the van as well, the complaint alleges.

In a formal, Mirandized statement, Anderson denied taking or damaging the van.

If convicted, Anderson faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.