Burglary suspects caught near Almelund

Following a high speed chase, local authorities caught up with a pair of burglary suspects from the Twin Cities area who allegedly tried to break into Rod’s Country Corner in Almelund and a government building at nearby Wild River State Park in the early morning hours of Monday, May 12.

Gary Allen Kachina, 31, of Columbia Heights, and Donald Lewis Crawford, 43, of Blaine, appeared in Chisago County District Court May 14 on charges including aiding and abetting second-degree burglary, attempted aiding and abetting burglary and possession of burglary tools.

Kachina was charged with an additional count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, since he was identified as the driver in the suspect vehicle, County Attorney Janet Reiter said.

According to the complaint, deputies with the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office responded to an alarm at Rod’s Country Corner, 37455 Park Trail, Center City, at around 4:22 a.m. The store owner, reporting it as a false alarm at first, viewed surveillance video and said two men had attempted to break into the business. The suspect vehicle and its license plate also were caught on tape.

Just short of 30 minutes later, the complaint continued, deputies were dispatched to an alarm at Wild River State Park, which is a few miles north of Rod’s. They found a window had been “smashed out” of a government building near the front entrance. A park employee said items including two pairs of binoculars had been stolen, while deputies discovered a computer monitor and two GPS devices on the floor.

At about 6 a.m., deputies located the suspect vehicle leaving Rod’s Country Corner and attempted a traffic stop after the vehicle turned eastbound on Wild Mountain Road. One deputy reported reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph during the pursuit.

The chase ended when the suspect vehicle turned into a field and got stuck. While both suspects declined to give a statement to law enforcement, a search of their car yielded the stolen binoculars, books on birds and a map of Wild River State Park. Deputies also found several burglary tools including bolt cutters, a chisel and a flashlight, the complaint said.

For both men, unconditional bail was set at $100,000 and $60,000 with conditions including no use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances and urine testing prior to release.

Reiter said her office also received reports from Lakes Area Police that links Kachina and Crawford to a break-in at the Roadhouse on Highway 8 in Chisago City. While this information was “not in our hands at the time the two co-defendants were charged,” she noted, “the Roadhouse is considered a victim as this case moves through the court process.”

The next court date was set for 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 28.

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