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Theft charges filed against Rushmore man

WORTHINGTON -- A 22-year-old Rushmore man is facing two felony charges after allegedly boosting a pile of old radiators from a shop in Leota.

Tony William Fluit is charged with theft over $1,000 and receiving stolen property, which carry a maximum combined penalty of 10 years incarceration and/or $20,000 in fines.

Scrap metal prices have been high enough in the past year or so to spur a rash of thefts from a variety of venues around the nation, from building sites to junk yards. Fluit allegedly nabbed more than 20 radiators from Ive's Radiator Shop and attempted to sell them as scrap.

The complaint states the owner of Ive's contacted authorities Monday after discovering 25 to 30 radiators missing from behind his shop. Someone had reported seeing a red pickup with a broken rear window behind the shop at approximately 2:30 a.m. that morning.

The owner believed Fluit was behind the disappearance of the radiators and told a Nobles County Deputy he believed Fluit would try to sell them at Shine Brothers.

At Shine, authorities found a stack of radiators, a red pickup and Fluit and his girlfriend. An employee of the recycling facility told authorities the 26 radiators brought in by Fluit were worth about $1,215 in scrap metal.

Fluit allegedly told the deputy he bought the radiators in Luverne, Edgerton and Leota. He said the owner of the shop in Leota told him he could have anything by the barrels located behind the shop and could pick the items up anytime. He stated he picked the radiators up at 9 p.m. the night before, but had stopped around 2:30 a.m. to buy pop.

Fluit's girlfriend said they two of them had been out with friends and had then gone out to collect scrap, stopping in Edgerton, Luverne and Leota. The following day, when questioned again, she said they did not go to Luverne that night and had never picked up radiators in Luverne or Edgerton.

After another talk with the shop owner, authorities learned Fluit had talked to the owner about scrap metal and had been given permission to take scrap out of the barrels but knew that he was not to take the radiators located on pallets several feet away.

Fluit allegedly admitted to authorities on Wednesday he had taken all but two of his radiators from Ive's that night and knew he was not allowed to take them unless he paid for them.

Bond was set at $1,500, and Fluit was granted a public defender. His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 20.