A Thief River Falls man was convicted Friday, Aug. 19 of burglarizing McDonald’s last December.
Judge Kurt Marben convicted Brian Allen Torkelson, 25, of felony first degree burglary and felony ineligible person possessing a firearm, according to online court documents. The trial was held Aug. 3 and 4. Marben’s order was filed Aug. 19. Sentencing has been set for Monday, Sept. 19.
Justin Rick Hopper, 25, Thief River Falls, has also been charged in connection with the burglary. A jury trial has been set for Wednesday, Sept. 14 in his cases related to that burglary and the burglary of a rural Thief River Falls home.
Torkelson has also been charged in connection with the latter burglary. For that offense, both men face charges of felony first degree burglary, felony theft of a firearm and felony ineligible person possessing a firearm.
For the McDonald’s burglary, Torkelson was convicted and Hopper is accused of entering through an unlocked McDonald’s drive-through and stealing a large safe on Dec. 10, according to the complaint against Torkelson. Police Chief Dick Wittenberg earlier said that it was believed the safe contained about $4,000.
Surveillance video showed two masked people entering the business about three minutes after the last employee clocked out at 1:07 a.m. The burglary was discovered about four hours later. One burglar, wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, was armed with a shotgun featuring a sling. Both were wearing gloves. Torkelson and Hopper allegedly loaded the safe into a stolen 1999 Chevy Suburban that had been parked at 112 Breezy Dr., a short distance from McDonald’s. Police later found the vehicle in the parking lot of Chief Red Robe Park in Thief River Falls. The police report indicated that the vehicle had sustained about $5,000 in damage.
The men are also accused of a burglary at 14224 177th St. N.E. in rural Thief River Falls. That burglary was reported the same morning as the McDonald’s burglary. The police report indicated that jewelry, cash, an iPad, a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and a Colt target pistol were stolen. The items are valued at more than $5,000.
While investigating the case, police spoke to Hopper’s girlfriend. She said that the men
brought two guns – including a gun with a strap and a .22-caliber pistol – to her home. She said they told her that the guns and about $60 in coins had been stolen from the rural Thief River Falls home. The woman also reported seeing a checkbook with the alleged victim’s last name on the front. The woman allegedly said Torkelson and Hopper talked about obtaining more money and something about someone walking out with a bag of money. They later left
her home with Torkelson carrying a shotgun in his coat.
About 45 minutes after McDonald’s was burglarized, the woman received a phone call from the men. Hopper, who admitted to stealing a safe, asked for a ride. She said her vehicle wouldn’t start. He replied that they would steal a truck, according to the complaint.
The woman later saw the two men with money contained in Northern State Bank bags.
Police learned from McDonald’s employees that the safe contained such bags. The woman said she and the men later used another woman’s car to drive to a storage trailer. A stolen suitcase was placed there. Afterward, law enforcement found clothing inside the suitcase, including a white hooded sweatshirt and another piece of clothing.
The clothing matched a description, provided by the woman, of what Torkelson had been wearing. The woman said Shane Michael Drury later removed the guns from her home at her request. She didn’t want the guns there, and Torkelson hadn’t removed them as she had requested.
Drury, 36, St. Hilaire, has been charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and obstructing an investigation.