A man charged with auto theft told Cottage Grove police he bought the car with a damaged ignition and steering column and that it did not come with keys, according to authorities.
Police arrested Jake D. Novaczyk, 32, on Monday for outstanding warrants following a traffic stop in Cottage Grove. Novaczyk also faces new felony charges of receiving stolen property and theft of a motor vehicle in a criminal complaint filed in Washington County District Court.
According to the complaint:
A Cottage Grove patrol officer conducted a random license plate check on a vehicle traveling on Hinton Avenue before 1 p.m. Monday. The number on the front license plate - 626BEK - was registered to a vehicle reported stolen from St. Paul. The number on the rear license plate - 626EEK - was registered to a different vehicle.
The officer stopped the vehicle on 71st Street. The driver, later identified as Novaczyk, had active warrants out of Washington and Hennepin counties. He was arrested.
During the stop, police allegedly recovered nine syringes in the glove box, eight of which appeared to have been used. There was blood on one of the syringes, along with a substance that was later tested as methamphetamine.
Novaczyk and the passenger, 32-year-old Stacey J. Williams, denied ownership or knowledge of the syringes, the complaint said.
Police said a door lock was punched out and the ignition on the steering column was damaged, allowing a screwdriver or other tool to be used to start and shut off the 1986 Chevrolet Caprice.
Novazcyk told police he bought the vehicle for $300, but did not provide specifics about the purchase. He said the vehicle did not come with keys or a title, the complaint said.
Police said they found a piece of black tape that had been placed on the front license plate to alter the number.
In a police interview Williams said she saw Novazcyk a day or so earlier and he did not have the car. She said that she asked Novazyck about the vehicle when the Cottage Grove officer started following them and that he "shushed" her, according to the complaint.
If convicted, Novaczyk faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each felony.
Williams was arrested on suspicion of a fifth-degree controlled substance charge, but the case was still under investigation and she had not been formally charged with a crime as of late Wednesday, according to the Washington County attorney's office.
Neither Novaczyk nor Williams has a permanent address.