Men charged for taking car for joy ride

Published 10:53 am Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The two men accused of taking a red 2005 Lincoln Sunday night have been charged after they allegedly took it for a “joy ride” to get back at the car’s owner.

Semaj Maurice Dow Jr., 18, of Minneapolis and Melvin Cole,19, of Albert Lea were charged with felony theft for taking a vehicle without consent and gross misdemeanor theft for taking or transferring property without consent.

At about 10:44 p.m. on Sunday, an Austin police officer responded to the stolen vehicle report on the 1900 block of Sixth Avenue Northwest. Upon arrival, another officer saw the car driving north on Eighth Street Northwest and was stopped near the intersection of 14th Street and Eighth Avenue Northwest, according to court records.

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Dow, the driver, and Cole, the passenger, were allegedly in the vehicle. The victim was brought to the scene of the traffic stop and told officers he was talking to a friend at his house and saw lights by his car. When he looked out again, the car was gone. The keys were in the ignition and the vehicle was unlocked.

Six items were missing from the car, including: a Sector 9 longboard, valued at $250; an Arbor longboard, valued at $475; a cell phone, valued at $100; a red backpack containing dog food; and speaker wire and fuses.

Officers spoke with Dow, who said, “I was driving it, but I didn’t steal it,” according to court records.

He told officers he knew the victim and had been in an argument with him before the Lincoln was taken.

Dow added he “just drove around town on a joy ride” and was going to return it. He also said the victim gave him permission to drive the Lincoln.

Cole told officers the victim took items from the apartment of an acquaintance, which angered Cole. Since the victim wouldn’t talk about that incident, Cole and Dow took the Lincoln.

Cole told officers the Lincoln was open and that they “just went around the block,” and Dow drove the entire time. Cole and Dow were arrested and transported to Mower County Jail.

The front passenger window was smashed out, and officers believe a screwdriver found in the car was used to break it. The victim said the window was not broken before the Lincoln was stolen.

Cole initially denied they removed any property from the Lincoln, but then said they put all of the property in the trunk of a friend’s vehicle. Officers later recovered all the property except a cell phone.

The friend told police he or she did not know about the items in the trunk.

Cole and Dow’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 26.