Man charged in vehicle thefts

Published 2:07 pm Saturday, August 17, 2019

An Austin man arrested Thursday morning in connection to two area vehicle thefts made his first appearance in Mower County District Court on Friday.

Jeremy Ashley Winkel, 38, was charged with two counts of felony theft-take/drive motor vehicle-no owner consent.

According to the court complaints, a woman contacted police about Winkel on Wednesday from Mayo Clinic Health System-Austin. She said he called her just after midnight and said he was coming to her house in Adams. Because it was so late, she told him he could not come, but determined he was already in Adams. He was driving a large 14-person passenger van, which struck her as odd because he did not have a vehicle or a license. He gave her the keys and she took him to the hospital because she could tell he was having trouble with his bi-polar disorder. Winkel left the hospital on foot.

Jeremy Ashley Winkel, 38

Email newsletter signup

The woman gave police the keys and told them the van was parked on Highway 56 in Adams. She said she did not know who owned the van.

Law enforcement located a Ford CTV and a large trailer belonging to the Osman Shriners.

They contacted the owner, who said the van was supposed to be parked at a business in the 600 block of 11th Street Northeast in Austin. The owner said he did not know Winkel and did not give anyone permission to drive it.

An off-duty deputy spotted Winkel at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday walking south across First Avenue Southeast. An Austin officer made contact with Winkel, who mentioned a roofer truck that he had made a deal for the previous night. He said he was on his bicycle near Austin High School when some male asked if he wanted to buy the truck.

While the officer spoke to Winkel, dispatch advised that a tanker truck was stolen at about 2:30 a.m. from a fenced in area in the construction zone by Austin High School. The vehicle had GPS tracking and was located in the area of First Street and Second Avenue Southeast. A passenger was found sleeping inside and removed from the vehicle. The passenger told police his friend “Jeremiah” claimed it was his work truck and had allowed him to sit in it. He stated that he was not in the vehicle when it was moving, but “Jeremiah” had driven it. He said he fell asleep in it after “Jeremiah” left.

The truck’s owner was transported to the scene and reported the truck had sustained damage to the passenger mirror, headlight and bumper. He also said that the brakes could be damaged due to driving with the air brakes on.

Video footage obtained from Austin High School showed an individual on a bike traveling north on Fourth Street Northwest, followed by the truck pulling out of the construction area, pushing the fence and heading south on Fourth Street a few minutes later. Footage then showed the truck heading north on Fourth Street.

Officers recovered what they believed to be Winkel’s bike from the fenced in area where the truck was stolen.

A review of Winkel’s criminal record shows prior convictions for domestic assault, theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle and obstructing ambulance personnel attempting to provide emergency care. He is awaiting disposition on charges of felony third-degree assault-substantial bodily harm, felony terroristic threats and gross misdemeanor fifth-degree assault.

Winkel will appear in court again on Aug. 29