Burglars convicted; one pleas guilty

“It’s like ‘Get an honest job’, when the rest of us that have small town businesses work hard and struggle to stay around for the community.” -Barb Rye

Eighteen months after two men broke into three Minneota businesses and took money and other items, a jury convicted Asbjorn Kristian Idso of Wood Lake of second and third degree burglary in all three incidents last Wednesday in the Lyon County Courthouse in Marshall.

The other man involved in the crimes, Tyler David Sowden of Marshall, was arrested and pled guilty on July 31, 2018. Sowden was charged with burglary in the second degree.

His charge of burglary in the third degree was dismissed in a plea deal.

He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution amounting to over $14,000. Minneota Building Materials, Gislason’s Hardware and Bauer Automotive were the three businesses broken into between 2:45 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 27, 2017.

A surveillance camera at Brad's Market was paramount in preventing the men from breaking into that business, while also eventually leading to the apprehension of the two men.

The two suspects were placed at the scene at the time of the crimes by the video footage.

“Cameras don’t lie,” said Brad Minnehan of Brad’s Market.

“It is a cheap investment to protect your livelihood. I have had cameras in my store for seven years.” Video footage showed that the men appeared to notice the camera, quickly attempted to conceal their identity, and then fled the scene.

Sowden was recognized after Minneota Police Chief Bill Bolt observed the video from the camera. Sowden was then located and arrested. He pled guilty to breaking and entering into the three businesses.

“Burglaries are rarely solved,” Bolt said.

“And they rarely result in convictions because often there is not a lot of evidence left behind. And if there is no video evidence or witnesses, you won’t know who the criminals are or what car they are driving.”

The two men caused extensive damage in their forced entries of the aforementioned businesses they broke into, including forcing open cash registers.

Hearsay and rumors may lead law enforcement personnel to a suspect, but proving they did the crime can often be a challenge.

And in that instance, a case can quickly go cold. “It makes me mad that people can break in and wreck your livelihood in minutes that took years to build,” Minnehan said.

Idso pled not guilty to the three counts of second and third degree burglary and opted for the case to go to trial in front of Judge Michelle Dietrich.

The jury then delivered a guilty verdict. Sentencing will be held on April 4. Minnehan, Barb Rye of Gislason’s Hardware, Greg Bauer of Bauer Automotive, and Kevin Jerzak of Minneota Building Materials were all subpoenaed to testify at the trial.

“I was nervous for the fact I was not used to being in a setting like that, and the fact that we were served subpoenas,” Minnehan said.

“I’ve never had that done before. I would do it all over again, though, to help fellow business owners seek justice.” “It was pretty cool, actually,” said Jerzak.

“I have never been in a courtroom before, much less on the witness stand. I felt proud of our community for coming together to testify against the plaintiff.”

Bolt and the business owners were all in agreement that they appreciated county attorney Abby Wikelius staying with the case until justice was served.

“I really have to credit (Wikelius) with never giving up on an older case,” Bolt said.

“She did a very good job prosecuting this case and to assure that justice was done for the community and the victims.”

“Justice does prevail,” Bolt added. “You have to trust that the system does work. It’s not perfect, but we are fortunate that in this case the county was able to obtain a guilty verdict.”

“I thought the process was very professional,” Minnehan said.

“I knew it was going to take a lot of time to solve. There was a lot of evidence to process. I feel justice was served and I thank the county attorney for not giving up on the case.”

“Most people aren’t aware of how long things like this may take; as was I,” said Rye.

“When there is more than one person involved in the crime, you have to go for the one that would be more of a threat to the community. That takes time and things have to fall in place. And they did.”

“Being found guilty on all charges was gratifying,” said Jerzak. “I hope this case shows that patience and cooperation with the business owners and Minneota Police Department resulted in a favorable outcome.”

Bolt noted that numerous Minneota businesses have upgraded or installed new security systems and cameras; realizing it is “an investment on their business.”

Some of these businesses already had security systems in place prior to the burglaries, while others upgrades or installed security systems and cameras as a result of the 2017 burglaries.

“Some homeowners or businesses may not want to spend the money or take the time to install security systems,” Bolt said.

“But prevention is always cheaper than dealing with the consequences of a burglary.” Minneota Building Materials had purchased video cameras before the burglary at their business, but they were not yet installed.

“With the increased theft activity in Ghent, Minneota and Taunton areas, I figured it would only be a matter of time,” said Jerzak.

“That’s why we purchased the cameras.” Gislason’s Hardware installed security cameras and a motion light outside in the back of the store following the incident, Rye said.

“It’s much easier to prevent a theft than to solve one,” Bolt insisted.

“So there needs to be an emphasis on prevention among homeowners and business owners.”

“And that means installing alarms, locks, lighting and cameras. You need good lighting in order for the camera to pick up an image.”

As when a burglary happens to a homeowner or a business owner and its employees, those individuals feel violated that someone entered their place unlawfully.

“I was upset; mad,” said Rye.

“It’s like ‘Get an honest job’, when the rest of us that have small town businesses work hard and struggle to stay around for the community.”

“I felt violated,” said Jerzak, with an emphasis.

“I have been a part of this type of break-in twice before while being employed in Glencoe, MN.”

“I have had the same feeling after all three thefts; someone was in my space and they were not welcome to be there. It is something that sticks with a person for a while. It’s not a good feeling.”

Asbjorn Idso

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