Juvenile runaway operates motor vehicle without consent
At 8:59 p.m., Oct. 28, three juvenile runaways were reported from a residence in the 2800 block of Williams Avenue (ages 12, 13 and 16, all of River Falls). At 11 p.m., police received a stolen vehicle report from the 500 block of North Fourth Street. The vehicle's owner said three juveniles had stolen the vehicle from his driveway, drove to Division Street and then toward Main Street. The vehicle's owner said he saw the vehicle's headlights in his driveway, got up to look outside and saw the interior light on inside his vehicle. When he went outside to investigate, three young males matching the descriptions of the three runaway juveniles were inside the vehicle. He heard the vehicle start and watched it back out of his driveway.
The owner said he ran across the yard yelling "hey, stop", then ran out into the road to get in front of the vehicle. The owner said the juveniles looked at him as he ran out into the street and the driver stepped on the gas while he was still in front of the car. The vehicle allegedly hit him hard enough to push him off the street and into the grass, then drove away. The keys to the stolen vehicle had been left in another vehicle parked in the driveway, which was unlocked.
St. Croix County deputies located the vehicle, and stopped it as it was traveling eastbound on I-94 near the Baldwin exit. Spike strips / stop sticks were used to deflate a tire on the vehicle to stop it.
The vehicle was taken to the city impound lot, and the three juveniles were taken to the River Falls Police department. The 16-year-old said he is originally from Madison and was placed at a group home because he had stolen vehicles in the past. He said he and the other two juveniles had planned to run away. When they saw officers searching for them, the 16-year-old said he hid in a ditch to avoid being caught. The 16-year-old said the three were walking when he found a set of keys on the sidewalk and hit the key fob to determine to which vehicle they belonged. He allegedly got into the vehicle and started it up. The 16-year-old said he never saw anybody come out of the house while he was backing out of the driveway and continued down the road.
He denied seeing someone in front of the vehicle or striking that person. He said they continued to drive until they were stopped by officers.
The 16-year-old was taken to Eau Claire Juvenile Detention Facility. He is being charged with operating a motor vehicle without the owner's consent and reckless endangerment of safety. The 12-year-old told police he had completed sixth grade and that he's in a group home because he had issues with his grandmother, who is one of his legal guardians. He alleged he's been in trouble for drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.
He said he ran away from his home, in Barron, multiple times in the past. The 12-year-old said he does not like living at a group home because there are too many rules and his freedom is restricted. He told police that he and the 13-year-old had planned to run away, and that the 16-year-old wasn't originally part of their plans.
He said they knew they were going to get caught eventually and that the 16-year-old suggested they take a vehicle. The 12-year-old said the three found a vehicle in the 500 block of North Fourth Street, and found keys. When the 16-year-old pressed the keys the lights on the other vehicle in the same driveway activated. The 12-year-old said the 16-year-old took the other keys off the keychain and threw them in the grass. The 12-year-old said he was in the back of the vehicle, and saw the owner of the vehicle exit the residence. He said the owner was pounding on the windows of the vehicle. He said he didn't see the man get hit by the vehicle as he was buckling his seat belt and that the three did not go through other vehicles. He was taken to Eau Claire Juvenile Detention Facility.
• At 10:55 a.m. Oct. 24, a resident reported a tire had been stolen from her vehicle between the evening of Oct. 21 and early morning Oct. 22. The tire had been taken and a damaged rim and tire left in place of the old one. The resident said the last time she'd replaced a tire, it had cost about $170.
• At 9:40 a.m. Oct. 25, police received a report that a man's license plate had gone missing from his vehicle. The missing plate was noticed while the vehicle was parked at St. Croix Lanes, 1153 St. Croix St. The resident was not sure when the plate went missing or how long it had been gone.
• On Oct. 29, St. Paul Police Department reported they had seen stolen plates on a vehicle. They contacted the registered owner who reported the plate had been stolen, and he had filed a report with River Falls police.
• At 10:15 a.m. Oct. 25, police were sent to Royal Credit Union, 1150 North Main St., where staff reported a member's account had had fraudulent activity, causing RCU a loss of $25,280; $4,200 of that allegedly occurred at the River Falls branch. The victim's purse, checkbook and RCU check card had been stolen from her vehicle, which was reported to Ramsey County Sheriff's Office. Someone had allegedly written checks to the victim from other stolen check books, then posed as the victim to cash them at various RCU locations, including River Falls, Hudson, New Richmond, Somerset, St. Paul and Apple Valley.
• At 2:30 p.m. Oct. 24, police were notified that a student had allegedly admitted to Renaissance Academy staff that he had smoked a vaporizer that contained nicotine. The student also refused to give up the vape. When police arrived, the student gave up the vape reluctantly and was cited $86.20 for minor possess or purchase tobacco, second offense.
At 9:30 a.m. Oct. 25, police met with a woman who said she had sold a handicapped ramp on Craigslist to a man who called himself Vince Farrell. He sent a check that was already written for $1,930. He asked the resident to take the leftover money, and purchase four $400 gift cards from Walmart and mail them to him. The woman cashed the check but told police she felt uneasy and believed it may be a scam, and therefore went to the police station. Police advised her to return the money to the bank, as the check was worthless. She was also advised to block the man's phone number.