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Warrant issued after man allegedly steals $330 in batteries, flees police

Warrant issued for Austin Pate, whose last known address was in Sioux Falls, S.D.

A close-up photo of police lights by night
A close-up photo of police lights by night

LUVERNE — A warrant has been issued out of Rock County’s Fifth District Court for a Sioux Falls, South Dakota man charged with a felony-level count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and misdemeanor theft.

The current whereabouts of Austin John Pate, 28, are unknown.

According to the criminal complaint, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office received a report at approximately 9:15 a.m. March 9 of a theft that had occurred at a Luverne business involving nearly $330 in Dewalt rechargeable batteries. The suspect reportedly set off the alarm while exiting the building, and left in an older white car with dealer plates at a high rate of speed before entering westbound Interstate 90.

A Minnesota State Trooper on routine patrol on eastbound I-90 in Rock County, as well as the Rock County Sheriff, responded to the attempt to locate call, with the trooper spotting a white Chevy Malibu with dealer plates. The trooper got behind the vehicle after observing the male driver and a male passenger, who was slouched down in the front passenger seat and looking toward the rear window.

The driver veered right after the squad’s lights were activated, exited at Minnesota 23 and then came to a complete stop at the top of the ramp. The driver then drove back onto I-90 at a high rate of speed for approximately one-half mile. When the trooper pulled alongside the vehicle and motioned for the driver to pull over, the driver looked at the trooper and then stopped on the north shoulder.

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When the trooper exited the squad, the driver fled from the scene and continued westbound on I-90 for approximately one-quarter mile toward the South Dakota state line at a speed of 96 miles per hour. At this time, it was observed that the dealer plate fell off the rear of the car to reveal a South Dakota license plate that was traced to Pate.

Having observed the driver while pulled alongside the vehicle, the trooper was able to identify the driver as a white male in his 20s, with a stocky build and short, messy dark hair. The passenger, meanwhile, was of slender build with dark, bushy and curly hair, wearing thin, light-colored glasses.

The trooper notified the South Dakota Highway Patrol of the vehicle and terminated the pursuit, later providing a positive identity when presented with a driver’s license photo of the vehicle’s registered owner, Pate. The trooper further confirmed Pate’s identity upon receiving his booking photo from the South Dakota Department of Corrections.

Meanwhile, surveillance video from the Luverne store that reported the theft was obtained by a Rock County Sheriff’s deputy, showing the suspect who took the rechargeable batteries wearing a gray jacket with the hood pulled up, a black face covering, dark-colored sunglasses, blue jeans and white shoes. The deputy took screen shots of the suspect and emailed them to the trooper, who confirmed the driver of the vehicle involved in the pursuit matched the suspect from the Luverne store.

Pate has not yet been located through the phone number or address listed on his driver’s license. If found and convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of three years and one day in jail and/or a $5,000 fine for fleeing a peace officer; and 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine on the theft charge.

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