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Two face charges in theft of central Minnesota pop machine

WILLMAR - Two men face felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with the alleged theft of a Pepsi pop machine in April from the front of the Drex Mart General Store in Lake Lillian.Dale Gary Greiner, 51, of Cosmos, and Justin Lamoine Hacker, ...

Greiner
Greiner
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WILLMAR - Two men face felony and misdemeanor charges in connection with the alleged theft of a Pepsi pop machine in April from the front of the Drex Mart General Store in Lake Lillian.

Dale Gary Greiner, 51, of Cosmos, and Justin Lamoine Hacker, 36, of Waite Park each face felony charges of theft and first-degree criminal damage to property, plus misdemeanor theft charges.

The investigation involved deputies from three area sheriff's offices and was aided by a search warrant that had allowed placement of a tracking device on Greiner's vehicle.

The men were to make their first appearances Wednesday afternoon, July 5, in Kandiyohi County District Court.

Hacker did not go to court, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

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Greiner was released on his own recognizance, and his next court date is Sept. 11.

According to court documents, Greiner and Hacker are accused of stealing the pop machine, damaging it and removing its contents.

The theft was reported the morning of April 19. Store employees said one of the vending machines in front of the store was missing and the store's video cameras had been spray-painted orange.

Before the lenses were painted, they recorded the arrival of a black Ford Explorer with a trailer. A store employee heard from a clerk at a Cosmos convenience store that a man with blood on his arm had paid for a purchase with quarters and was driving an Explorer.

A vending machine was found that morning in a ditch along Kandiyohi County Road 78 west of Kandi-Meeker Road. Owner Bernick's Pepsi identified it as the Drex Mart machine and said the $2,000 machine had been damaged beyond repair.

Kandiyohi County investigators learned that the Renville County Sheriff's Office had previously obtained a warrant to place a tracking device on Greiner's Ford vehicle as part of another investigation. The tracking device indicated Greiner's vehicle was at the Drex Mart shortly before 5 a.m. April 19.

Renville County investigators viewed video from the Cosmos convenience store and allegedly identified Greiner as the person who had bought cigarettes, water and ice, paying with two $1 bills and 36 quarters.

When Greiner was interviewed by a Kandiyohi County deputy, he said he did not know anything about the pop machine. According to the complaint, he told authorities he loaned his vehicle to Hacker, and that Hacker returned it the morning of April 19, giving him dollars and quarters for gas money.

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Meeker County investigators questioned Hacker, and he allegedly admitted that he and Greiner stole the pop machine, pried it open and dumped it by a road. He said the theft was Greiner's idea.

According to court records, Greiner also faces pending charges of second-degree burglary in Renville County.

Hacker faces pending charges of check forgery in Hennepin County; check forgery, third-degree burglary and felony theft in Renville County; and possession of burglary tools in Meeker County. In May, Hacker was convicted of possession of burglary tools and check forgery in Stearns County.

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In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: lvanderwerf@wctrib.com or phone 320-214-4340
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