Warrant issued for man facing charges of burglary, moreWORTHINGTON — An arrest warrant has been issued for a man accused of stealing blank checks, laundry soap, a flashlight and about 10 pounds of hamburger.
By: Justine Wettschreck, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — An arrest warrant has been issued for a man accused of stealing blank checks, laundry soap, a flashlight and about 10 pounds of hamburger.
Michael James Bartels, 22, has been sought by authorities since early May, when he allegedly entered the home of the victims without permission while they were out of town and used their car. Charges filed Thursday in Nobles County District Court include second-degree burglary, motor vehicle theft-unauthorized use, motor vehicle tampering and theft under $500.
The victims called authorities May 1 and said several items were missing from their home, adding that they knew Bartels had used their car while they were out of town. More than 100 blank checks were gone, along with the other items.
A witness said Bartels had driven the victims’ car to their house and had admitted to stealing the car.
While the officer was speaking to the victims, Bartels called the male victim’s phone. Bartels spoke to the officer and agreed to meet with him later that day, but never showed up for the appointment.
The officer checked the house and found no signs of forced entry. The victims told the officer they had allowed Bartels to stay at their house several weeks before because he was homeless. The male victim said he had let Bartels use his car at that time, and that he could have had the house key copied. But he did not have permission to be in their house while they were gone, the victims said.
Over the next few days, the officer continued attempts to locate Bartels without success. The victims told the officer Bartels had contacted them several times and asked them to drop the charges, claiming he did not take the missing checks. The male victim said Bartels had admitted to him he had picked the lock to get inside the house, did some wash and grabbed some meat from the freezer. The man said he had met Bartels at a gas station over the weekend and Bartels had given him $20 to pay for the meat.
On May 6, the officer was able to speak with Bartels, who claimed he had asked the male victim if he could stay at his house in case of an emergency. He said the man had left the garage door unlocked and that the house key was inside the car. He claimed he had borrowed the food and was going to pay the victims back, and that he had washed his clothes while he was at the house. He claimed he did not take the missing checks and that the man had given him permission to drive the car.
The officer spoke with the male victim again, who reiterated he had not given Bartels permission to drive the car and said Bartels had told him he had picked the lock.
With Bartels’ whereabouts currently unknown, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He faces a maximum combined penalty of 15 years and 180 days incarceration and/or $32,000 in fines.