By Derrick Knutson—
The “it runs in the family” adage might be a bit overused, but sometimes it’s an apt saying, or at least it is for two brothers accused of stealing from Knife River Corporation in Harris.
Roger Allen Blahowski, 54, of Harris, and his brother, James Joseph Blahowski, 48, of Rush City, were each charged in Chisago County District Court Feb. 2 with one count of aiding and abetting burglary in the third degree and one count of aiding and abetting theft – both felonies – in connection with the attempted theft of several large brake drums and cutting edges from Knife River Corporation in Harris.
Knife River Corporation is an aggregate, ready-mix, sand and gravel producer.
According to a criminal complaint, at about 2:19 a.m. Feb. 2, an alarm at Knife River went off, and Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the location.
Upon arrival, deputies found a truck they knew belonged to Roger.
Deputies found the aforementioned items, valued at about $1,800, in the truck.
Roger was found near the vehicle and arrested, but it appeared his brother tried to flee from authorities.
Deputies tracked James’s footprints with the aid of K-9 officers to a tall swath of grass just off Harder Avenue near the business. There, they found James lying on his stomach.
Subsequently, he was also arrested.
At the scene deputies found tin snips, a 24-volt impact cordless drill, a spare battery and a crescent wrench.
Roger agreed to an interview after being read his Miranda rights.
He told deputies his brother contacted him requesting a ride in order to pick up scrap metal in the area of Knife River. He stated he arrived at the business to meet James and load the items into his truck.
When confronted with the evidence of his shoe prints being near the area of the stolen goods, Roger denied any involvement in the theft from the Knife River storage building.
Sled tracks were found near the storage building, and a sled was found in the back of Roger’s truck.
He also denied his sled being used in the burglary.
Chisago County Sheriff’s Office Captain Keith Hoppe said the items the brothers were allegedly stealing from Knife River could be sold for scrap.
“There’s a value on scrap metal right now,” he said.
A representative from Knife River told the Post Review that the business has been burglarized repeatedly since July, and the thieves have made off with thousands of dollars worth of parts.
Due to the recent increase in theft, Knife River installed additional security cameras, which led to the arrest of the Blahowskis.
The Blahowskis are no strangers to the court system.
Roger has a wrap sheet of 18 offenses in Chisago County dating back to 1999. Some of those crimes include drug possession, violating a restraining order and assault. Ten of the offenses are traffic related.
Younger brother James’s criminal record isn’t quite as lengthy. He has nine violations, four of which are traffic related. His convictions include drug possession, theft and angling without a license.