WORTHINGTON — A warrant has been issued for Joseph Michael Lange, 36, of Wentworth, South Dakota, in connection with the felony-level theft of a motor vehicle in Worthington. The incident allegedly took place on Aug. 8, when Worthington Police officers responded to the report of a stolen Chevy Equinox from a local car dealership.
Employees at the dealership told police that a man, identified at a later date as Lange, requested to test drive a vehicle and pick up his wife at Holiday Inn Express. Employees became suspicious after they called the phone number Lange had provided for his wife, but the number didn't work. Later, it was learned Lange provided a false name to the dealership.
According to the report, two employees drove to the Holiday Inn Express and attempted to stop Lange as he left the hotel in the Chevy Equinox but he accelerated and drove off. When officers went to the Holiday Inn Express, they obtained a photograph of Lange from hotel surveillance footage. Employees from the dealership confirmed this as the same man who had come in for the test drive and driven off with the Chevy Equinox. After being granted permission to search the hotel room, officers found a pop bottle, which was processed for DNA evidence.
Contact was made with the woman whose name Lange had allegedly given at the dealership as his wife. The woman said that she had reported her car and purse stolen by an unknown person. Her car was later located and DNA was collected.
On Aug. 11, the Chevy Equinox was found in Ramona, S.D., with the keys in the cupholder. Worthington Police provided the photograph from Holiday Inn Express to a local Sheriff's Deputy, who identified the man as Lange from numerous police contacts with him. The Deputy allegedly informed Worthington Police that Lange was on probation in Sioux Falls for drugs and was a suspect in another motor vehicle theft. The Deputy also stated Lange had been apprehended in Lake County, S.D. for the Sioux Falls warrant and had declined to give a statement.
Lange is currently held in the Minnehaha County Jail in Sioux Falls. In regard to the motor vehicle theft charges in Worthington, if convicted, Lange faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
Because no arrest was made in Nobles County, a photo of Lange is not available.