Grand Meadow man faces theft charge

Published 6:59 am Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Grand Meadow man was charged Monday in Mower County court with felony theft for allegedly stealing two pieces of farm equipment worth a combined $2,500 from an area auction company last week.

Anthony Orrin Bell, 63, is scheduled for arraignment on the single criminal count April 22. He was released from custody Monday.

According to a criminal complaint, Mower County authorities were first notified of the theft on Thursday morning by Michael Victor Suess, 58, an owner of Suess Auctions in Racine. He had first notified authorities of a suspicious vehicle driving away from his business late on Wednesday, but he was unable to identify anything missing at the time because of darkness.

On Thursday morning, he noticed a large tiller, valued at $1,500, and a baler, valued at $1,000, were both missing. The owner followed up by contacting the LeRoy Iron and Metal Scrap Yard to see if anything had turned up, with no luck. However, several hours later, Suess received a call from the scrap yard, indicating that the baler matching his description had turned up, the complaint states.

A scrap yard representative said it had been brought in by Bell, who was described as a regular customer. He said Bell dropped off the equipment, then left to pick up another item to scrap, the complaint states.

Authorities were able to meet with Bell later on Thursday at his Grand Meadow home and discussed the incident. He said he had purchased the baler from an auction near Pine Island on April 5, but decided to scrap it because he thought it would be more valuable that way. However, Bell was unable to come up with a receipt for his purchase, nor was he able to provide details about where exactly he purchased the baler.

Bell was arrested the next day and taken to the Mower County jail. There, he admitted to authorities that he had in fact taken the two pieces of equipment, but said he did so more because of “bad blood” with the owners than for money, the complaint states. Bell said he broke down the tiller with a torch and said he had discarded it outside of Grand Meadow.

Authorities later recovered the tiller, in pieces, near 730th Avenue south of County Road 2.