MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 35-year-old Apple Valley man is accused of stealing a car after it was started to warm up in cold weather on New Year’s Eve in South St. Paul, according to charges filed in Dakota County Court.

Mitchell Allen Barnes was charged with theft of a motor vehicle in connection with the incident.

According to the charges, South St. Paul police responded at about 7 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2017, to a residence on a report of a stolen vehicle. When officers arrived, a man told them he started his vehicle to let it warm up in the cold weather, and went back inside. The car is a push-button start, and the man had the key fob to the vehicle.

He told police he didn’t give anyone permission to take the vehicle.

The complaint states as an officer was talking to the victim, he heard a radio call from Inver Grove Heights police that the stolen vehicle had been stopped. Barnes was identified as the driver, and a woman and small child were inside the vehicle. Barnes told police he saw the woman in the car with another man. He argued with the man, and the man walked away.

According to the complaint, Barnes told police he then got in the car and drove it around the corner. He said it wasn’t his and didn’t have permission to drive it. He told police he was trying to get the woman and baby out of the cold. He told police the woman had been borrowing cars recently and thought she had permission to use the car.

The complaint states officers spoke with the woman, who told police Barnes showed up in the car to pick her up and had plans to take her to Apple Valley.

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