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1 takes plea deal in theft case; Duo was tracked by GPS unit

One of two people charged for robbing a rural Mower County construction site last year changed his plea in Mower County District Court on Monday.

Mark Edward Smith, 39, of Austin pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement to felony theft for taking copper wire and other items from a rural Mower County construction site before being tracked through a GPS unit on Aug. 27, 2016.

Jessi Elise Jaszewski previously pleaded guilty as part of a plea agreement to felony theft and fifth-degree drug possession in the incident.

The two allegedly took more than $1,000 worth of copper wire, a cordless speaker, gloves and plastic wire covering from a construction site.

According to court records, Mower County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the area of County Road 14 and 220th Street around 3:13 a.m. on Aug. 27, 2016, after being notified that a GPS unit on a spool of copper wire worth more than $1,000 had been activated at a construction site.

The spool moved north to Highway 63 and came to a stop near Root River Recycling in Racine.

When the deputies arrived, they saw a car belonging to Smith in the last location of the GPS tracking unit. When deputies approached, they saw lights on in the building, which soon went out before they saw a flashlight being shined around inside the building.

Officers with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office arrived on scene, as did Mower detectives with a search warrant.

Officers searched the building with a K-9 before locating Smith and Jaszewski in a locked room. Officers breached the door and arrested the two.

At the Mower County jail, Smith told police he went to his work, Root River Recycling, to work on his truck and get the building ready for inspection.

He said Jaszewski later borrowed his truck and left.

Jaszewski confirmed she borrowed the truck while Smith was working, which she said she did to go visit a friend. Jaszewski admitted to going to a building on County Road 14 and taking the spool of wire, but she said Smith had nothing to do with the theft.

But due to the weight of the wire, authorities said it was unlikely she could have lifted it herself.

Deputies checked a trail cam at the construction site and saw both Smith and Jaszewski at the site during the theft, but officers were unable to find the GPS tracking unit in the copper wire and assumed it was destroyed.

Police seized 0.10 grams of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, a flashlight, a cell phone, pills, four cell phones, Maxflex gloves, a Milwaukee cordless speaker and wood parts of a spool of wire.

The gloves, speaker and plastic wire covering were reported stolen by the construction site owner.