Court charges

A 40-year-old Blaine man is charged with taking his vehicle from an auto shop without paying for more than $5,500 in repairs.

William Kenneth Saarela Sr. faces one felony count of theft of services valued over $5,000.

On Nov. 27, 2019, Anoka County sheriff’s deputies responded to Blatz Automotive on Highway 65 in Ham Lake for a reported vehicle theft, according to the criminal complaint.

Upon arrival deputies spoke with an employee who reported that two males stole a vehicle from the business around 5:30 p.m. the day before.

A surveillance video showed a minivan stop in front of the business. Two males exited the vehicle and fumbled with the lock, then returned to the minivan, grabbed a bolt cutters and cut the lock off, the charges say.

After gaining access to the property, the video showed the two males went to the back of the lot, entered an SUV and drove off, according to the complaint.

The owner told deputies Saarela had dropped off the vehicle for service at the end of August 2019. The SUV was fixed and ready for pickup as of Sept. 12, 2019, and the bill was $5,568.17, according to the charges.

Saarela reportedly texted the owner on Dec. 11, 2019, that he would pay for the services when he was back in town and that he did not get cell service where he was.

Saarela was found inside the vehicle Dec. 15 in Columbia Heights, and the SUV was impounded, according to the complaint.

When attempting to get the vehicle out of impound, Saarela’s mother told deputies that Saarela had said he needed to get his vehicle and she dropped him and his son at the business Nov. 26, 2019. Saarela’s mother also told deputies he is legally blind and his son drives for him, according to the complaint.

A warrant for Saarela’s arrest was issued March 18.

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