1 arrested in vehicle theft case

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Identified thanks to restaurant receipt

An Austin teen has been arrested in connection to a July 22 vehicle theft from Austin Ford.

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Elias James Wells, 18, has been charged with felony second-degree burglary – possess tool, felony third-degree burglary – steal property, and felony theft – take drive motor vehicle without consent.

According to the court complaint, police were dispatched on a burglary report at about 6:36 a.m. on July 22 to Austin Ford. An employee showed officers a broken window on a garage door, but a sweep of the building did not show anything obviously out of place.

A damaged knife was located next to the broken window; it is believed the knife was used to pry the window apart. A fresh shoe print was located on another door next to the garage door.

The employee later advised that a 2018 Dodge Challenger was stolen from the location.

An officer spotted the stolen Dodge at about 2:57 p.m. on July 22 traveling west on East Oakland Avenue. The officer gave chase, even pursuing the Dodge on a bike path near the Austin city dog park, before briefly losing sight of the vehicle. A witness then pointed at houses on the north side of 12th Avenue Southwest, where the Dodge was found abandoned and parked in a driveway in the 100 block.

The residents of the house told police they saw the Dodge quickly pull into their driveway and then two white males and a black male got out and ran to the north.

Police located three key fobs for new vehicles in the center console and an Arby’s bag on the front floor with an uneaten sandwich and a receipt time-stamped at 12:18 p.m. Detectives went to the Austin Arby’s location, where an employee identified Wells as the sole occupant of the vehicle when he purchased food at the drive-thru.

The detectives made contact with a relative of Wells, who said she had not seen him that day and that he was supposed to be at work in Blooming Prairie. A detective contacted Wells’s place of employment and was told Wells had not come to work that day.

Wells was arrested the following morning. A detective seized his shoes and found that they were a match to the shoe print on the door at Austin Ford.

Wells will appear in court again on Aug. 5.