Windom man facing burglary chargesMan accused of multiple break-ins into storage units
By: Justine Wettschreck, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Charges have been filed in Nobles County against a Windom man who allegedly broke into storage units several times in the past year by cutting locks off the unit doors.
Tyler Josh Harley, aka Duane Stanley Hirsch, 40, of Windom, is charged with three counts of third-degree burglary, one count of theft over $1,000 and receiving stolen property — all felonies.
The complaint states authorities were contacted in May 2007 by a man that had gone to his storage unit and found the lock gone. When he opened the door, he found the lock had been cut and was lying on the ground inside.
The man said he had just been at his storage unit the night before, and the only thing missing was a tarp.
The following day, the officer received a phone call from the man, who said the owner of the storage facility had just informed him his unit was without a lock once more.
When the officer went to the storage facility, he saw the lock was gone, the hinge on the unit had been cut, and a snow blower was missing from inside. Surveillance video showed a white Chevrolet Lumina enter the storage facility shortly after midnight. On the video, a man got out of the car, opened the trunk and appeared to be cutting the lock on the unit. He then placed some items in his truck and drove away.
Video from the following day showed a brown pickup with a white topper enter the facility shortly before midnight. A man got out of the truck, retrieved a bolt cutter from the back of the truck and cut the hinge on the unit. The video showed the man remove the snowblower from the unit, lower his tailgate, take ramps from the truck and set them up, then drive the snowblower up the ramps.
In January 2008, an officer received a call concerning a burglary at the storage facility. The officer spoke with two men, who said they had gone to get hunting vests out of a storage unit, but when they arrived, the door to the unit was open and a man was inside.
The man that rented the unit asked the man inside what he was doing. He claimed a friend had sent him to the unit to get some ice fishing equipment.
The victim asked the man if he had taken anything and the man denied it, but two sub-woofers and a camouflage vest could be seen in the trunk of the man’s white Lumina. As the victim called the police, the man jumped in his car and drove away. The victim described the man as a white male with shoulder-length brown or black hair worn in a pony tail. The victim’s friend provided authorities with the Lumina’s license plate number, which was traced back to Harley.
The video from the storage facility corroborated the statements made by the victim and his friend.
In June, authorities spoke to Harley, who initially denied being at the storage unit, but when confronted with the fact his car was shown in surveillance videos, told law enforcement he had been at the facility to complete a narcotics transaction with two unknown males. Harley claimed he was sent there by an unnamed person to sell two eight-balls of cocaine, and the men offered him the speakers and hunting vest because they didn’t have enough money for the drugs.
Eventually, Harley admitted he had taken property from the storage units because he owed money for a drug debt. In his garage, the stolen snowblower was located, along with bolt cutters and a photo album that was not his.
Harley is facing a maximum combined penalty of 25 years incarceration and/or $50,000 in fines. His next court appearance is 9 a.m. Sept. 30 at Prairie Justice Center, Worthington.