The Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office has some advice for wanna-be thieves: If you need a ride home when you get released from jail because it’s raining outside, stealing a vehicle isn’t a good idea.

That’s exactly what a Cambridge man did on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

Russell J. Roberts, 41, of rural Cambridge, started making the long walk from Milaca to his residence in Isanti County after being released from the Mille Lacs County Jail. After walking 7 miles south from Milaca, Roberts passed by Woody’s Towing at 10595 90th St., Princeton, where a flatbed tow truck caught his eye.

In a statement to Mille Lacs County deputies, Roberts admitted to taking the truck.

Roberts told deputies that while walking, he became tired and stressed from the cold weather, according to a criminal complaint filed in Mille Lacs County District Court. He saw the truck, got in and drove it to Isanti County.

A social media posting that included surveillance images of the suspected truck thief generated a tip that the truck was along the 5500 block of Highway 95 in rural Princeton east of the Lucky 7 Bear Bait Shop.

On Saturday, Nov. 13, Mille Lacs County deputies went to the address and located the flatbed truck. They also visited a private residence adjacent to the property to speak to its occupants, the criminal complaint states. While there, Roberts was located in a vehicle parked on the driveway. 

Roberts was taken into custody and returned to the Mille Lacs County Jail where he was charged with felony theft.


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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