By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — A 25-year-old Colfax man has been arrested for walking off with steel from Anderson Bridges in Colfax and also has confessed to stealing iron from the Colfax Railroad Museum.
Donald J. Binder was arrested October 20 in connection with the thefts from Anderson Bridges.
According to information from Colfax Police Chief Bill Anderson, while Binder was being interviewed at the Dunn County jail, he admitted to stealing from Anderson Bridges and from the Colfax Railroad Museum.
Earlier in October, Scott Kingzett, tour guide and caretaker at the Colfax Railroad Museum, contacted the Colfax Police Department to report some suspicious activity at the museum.
Kingzett had discovered that metal train parts stored outside at the museum had been moved around and placed in a different location.
The movement of the iron pieces seemed to indicate that someone had sorted through the pile of parts and had separated out some of the iron, possibly to come back and take it later, Police Chief Anderson said.
Three days later, on October 11, Beverly Sakalaucks, co-owner of the museum, contacted the Colfax Police Department to report that metal train parts had been stolen from the museum.
Two days later, on Monday, October 13, several recycling and scrap iron businesses were contacted, but none of them recognized those kinds of parts coming in, Police Chief Anderson said.
The next day, Herb Sakalaucks, owner and curator of the Colfax Railroad Museum, reported to the Colfax Police Department that more metal train parts had been stolen since Beverly Sakalaucks had reported the initial theft.
On October 19, the Colfax Police Department received information about the possible theft of steel pieces from Anderson Bridges in Colfax and also about who might have been involved.
On October 20, the Colfax Police Department investigated and followed up on the information that had been received and discovered that steel stolen from Anderson Bridges was in the backyard of a residence in the Village of Colfax.
Online court records list Binder as having a First Avenue address in Colfax.
Additional investigation revealed that numerous steel pieces had been stolen from Anderson Bridges over the last few weeks and had been brought to a local recycling business and scrapped, Police Chief Anderson said.
The Colfax Police Department learned that the person who had stolen the steel from Anderson Bridges was the same person who had stolen the train parts from the Colfax Railroad Museum.
Witnesses reported that metal train parts had been brought to a recycling business, and the person who was identified as suspected in those thefts and also identified as the person bringing the items to the recycling business was 25-year-old Donald Binder of Colfax.
The Colfax Police Department also learned that Binder was currently attempting to contact someone to remove the pieces of railroad iron from the backyard and bring them to a recycling business, Police Chief Anderson said.
Before someone could come to haul the pieces away, Binder was arrested and taken to the Dunn County jail regarding the thefts from Anderson Bridges, he said.
After Binder admitted to stealing from Anderson Bridges and the Colfax Railroad Museum, reports were sent to the Dunn County district attorney’s office referring Binder to further theft charges related to the Colfax Railroad Museum.
According to Sakalaucks, the items stolen from the museum are valuable as parts for restoring train cars.
Hiring a machinist to make a replacement part would cost between $4,000 and $5,000, Sakalaucks said, compared to the relatively small amount someone would get from selling the item for scrap.
Binder has been charged with theft several times over the past several years.
On June 27, Dunn County Circuit Court Judge Rod Smeltzer accepted Binder’s plea of “no contest” and found the defendant guilty of misdemeanor theft for an incident that occurred in November of last year and also accepted a plea of “no contest” for misdemeanor theft for an incident in April of this year.
Judge Smeltzer sentenced Binder to 120 days in jail with credit for 67 days already served for the incident of theft last year and withheld sentence for the incident in April and placed Binder on one year of probation.
During the June court hearing, Andrew Maki, assistant district attorney, noted that Binder had been ordered to pay $1,085 in restitution that had not been paid.
Binder also has been convicted of stealing money from the Colfax Laundromat in June of last year.
He was convicted of misdemeanor theft in April of 2012 as well, was placed on one year of probation and ordered to complete ten hours of community service for an incident that had occurred in January of that year.
Binder also had been charged with felony burglary as a party to a crime for the same incident in January of 2012, but Judge Smeltzer deferred prosecution on the felony charge with the condition that Binder successfully complete probation on the misdemeanor theft charge.
The Dunn County district attorney’s office has not yet determined formal charges for the thefts from Anderson Bridges and the Colfax Railroad Museum.