Charges: 3 Stole Copper, Caused Power Outage
HASTINGS, Minn. (WCCO) – Three people are accused of causing a power outage in Eagan while trying to steal copper wire from the Dakota Electric Power Substation in 2009, according to charges filed in Dakota County District Court on Tuesday.
David Paul Stachowiak, 34 of Blaine, Alanna Magnuson and Brad Krekelberg were all charged Tuesday with felony counts of damage or theft to energy transmission equipment, first-degree criminal damage to property and possession of burglary tools.
According to a criminal complaint, Eagan Police were dispatched at about 12:37 a.m. on Dec. 23, 2009, to an address on Taconite Trail in Eagan on a report of a man on fire. Just before the call, the power at the Eagan Police Department had been interrupted for 10 to 15 seconds.
On the way to the call, officers noticed traffic lights that were out and lights in area homes were out. When they arrived, they found Stachowiak’s clothes had been badly burned, and that a strong smell of an electrical burn was coming from his clothes and body, according to the complaint.
Stachowiak was found near the Dakota Electric Substation, and officers found that a fence had been cut nearby to gain access to the station. Once at the station, officers found several areas where copper cables had been cut from transformers and quipment.
Officers also spotted an area where somebody had made contact and completed a circuit, which electrocuted them and launched them several feet away into snow and on fire.
Neighbors in the area told police they heard a loud bang, then the lights went out, according to the complaint.
Officers then spotted a male and female across the street from the substation next to a car, later identified as Krekelberg and Magnuson. They told police they were headed to a casino and didn’t know Stachowiak. Officers found evidence that told them Stachowiak knew Magnuson and Krekelberg, and then found documentation about copper wire that Magnuson and Stachowiak had sold.
Magnuson told police in August 2010 that Krekelberg and Stachowiak were in the substation that night just after midnight to steal copper. Stachowiak and Krekelberg went over the fence and into the substation, and Stachowiak had gotten electrocuted.
Magnuson also told police that Stachowiak previously worked at a utility company but was fired in 2008 after stealing $10,000 in copper wire from that company.
Since 2008, Magnuson had sold 3,611 pounds of copper and Stachowiak had sold 518 pounds, according to the complaint.
Officials with Dakota Electric reported more than $64,000 in damages as a result of the incident, while Great River Energy, which supplies energy directly to the substation, reported $14,000 in damage.
All three face up to 13 years in prison and $25,000 in fines if convicted on all charges.