When a truck stolen last April from Wholesale Auto was recovered in Lino Lakes last June, it bore no resemblance to the vehicle that once sat on a Princeton car lot.
For starters, the black 1997 Ford F150 was no longer black. The hood and box were white.
And speaking of the box, the bolts holding the box to the frame were new and it appeared that a new box had been attached to the vehicle.
The VIN number plate? That had been drilled out. A new VIN number was attached to the dashboard with double-sided tape.
But when officers looked close enough, they found evidence that the truck was the same one stolen in late May at the Princeton car lot.
And that evidence helped authorities charge a Princeton man with felony auto theft.
Michael Monroe Jepsen, 27, Princeton, is scheduled to make his first appearance in Mille Lacs County District Court on January 23, 2012, to face charges of taking a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent. If found guilty, he could face five years in prison and be required to pay a $10,000 fine.
According to a criminal complaint, Jepsen was identified as a party to the crime by Scott Butler, 43, who told investigators that he and Jepsen stole the truck together. Butler was tied to the vehicle theft after being in possession of the vehicle when arrested on June 22, 2011.
That’s the day a Lino Lakes police officer observed two men loading scrap metal into a trailer while following up on a burglary complaint. The trailer was being pulled by a white 1997 F150. When it left the scene the vehicle was pulled over by Ramsey County deputies because the trailer had a cracked taillight, the complaint states.
Butler, who was with another man, was apprehended at the scene on three active warrants.
While being interviewed, Butler told investigators the truck was the one stolen in Princeton. He also implicated Jepsen as his partner in the crime.
Butler told investigators that the pair took two trucks and created new ones by switching parts.