Eau Claire man charged with stealing guns in Town of Spring Brook burglary

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A 29-year-old Eau Claire man has been charged in connection with stealing guns during a burglary at an Elk Mound address.

Patrick E. Nolan is charged with one felony count of burglary/arming himself with a dangerous weapon.

[emember_protected] Nolan posted a $1,000 cash bail November 27.

A warrant was issued for Nolan’s arrest October 25. He appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court November 21 in custody on the arrest warrant.

According to the criminal complaint, a Dunn County deputy was dispatched to a residence in the Town of Spring Brook June 25 on a report of a burglary.

The homeowner said he and his wife had been away on vacation, and when they returned home on June 25, the man noticed his son’s knife collection was missing, along with three firearms and two firearms cases.

The man thought the missing items were a prank at first, but when he called his friends, none of them confessed to taking the items.

The homeowner said the garage door had been closed while they were gone, but the service doors on the garage were not locked. The firearms had been on a work bench and were now missing although multiple boxes of ammunition near the guns were all accounted for. The knife collection had been on the floor.

The guns that were stolen included a Model 70 Winchester (estimated value of $700); a black 12-gauge Remington shotgun ($350); and a 20-gauge Tri-Star with a 26-inch barrel ($350). The Winchester and the 12-gauge had been in cases, and the cases were valued at $55, according to the complaint.

The homeowner did not know of any suspects but pointed out to the deputy his son’s friends are “a rougher crowd.”

Car for sale

The deputy contacted the homeowner’s son several days later and asked “what had happened.”

The son said he had sold a car to a Sarah Casey, who still owed half of the money to him for the car. Not long after that, Casey was arrested and the car was towed.

After Casey got out of jail, she asked if the son could help pay the towing fee.

The son said he would not help pay the towing fee, and Casey allegedly said something to the effect of “I’ll get you back,” according to the complaint.

The son asked his friends about the missing items and then made contact with Nolan, who said he had just sold one of the black shotguns.

Nolan said Casey and someone named Jason were the ones who gave Nolan the shotgun. Nolan said Casey and Jason had additional firearms, and Nolan told the homeowner’s son he had pawned the guns at General Coin and Gun Exchange in Eau Claire, according to the complaint.

General Coin

Another Dunn County sheriff’s department investigator contacted the General Coin and Gun Exchange and asked if Nolan had been in recently to pawn guns, and a representative for the shop said Nolan had pawned three guns on Saturday, June 24, and had signed a bill of sale and checked the box, “is the article/firearm totally owned by you,” the complaint states.

Nolan was identified by a Wisconsin identification card.

The deputy who initially responded to the complaint contacted the General Coin and Gun Exchange, and a representative for the shop showed him the three firearms Nolan had pawned. The firearms matched the type and description of the firearms taken from the Town of Spring Brook residence.

The deputy reviewed security footage from General Coin and Gun Exchange, and the deputy observed a man believed to be Nolan, wearing a camouflage coat with a hat, had entered the store and turned over the three firearms to an employee at General Coin and Gun Exchange.

Chainsaws

On July 7, the homeowner contacted the Dunn County deputy and left a voicemail saying he had recently taken inventory of the items in the garage and noted three chainsaws also were missing. The chainsaws were all early 2000 models and were estimated to have a total value of $900, according to the complaint.

When investigators contacted Nolan and asked to speak to him about the burglary, Nolan said he wanted to speak with an attorney, the complaint states.

In August, Dunn County investigators contacted an Eau Claire County investigator who said he had recovered stolen property from several burglaries and thefts that Nolan had been involved in. Nolan and his companions were reportedly heavily involved in methamphetamine.

One of the recovered items was a chainsaw that had already been positively identified by the homeowner.

The Eau Claire County investigator reported Nolan had sold “numerous” items to General Coin and Gun Exchange that had been stolen in Dunn County.

In a taped interview, Nolan was asked where he got the guns he had sold, and without being confronted with the fact the guns were stolen, Nolan claimed he got them from the homeowner. The statement was “obviously false” since the homeowner said he was the victim of a burglary and provided a signed statement of non-consent, according to the complaint.

Nolan is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Dunn County Circuit Court December 5.

Burglary/arming self with a dangerous weapon is a Class E felony that, upon conviction, carries a penalty of a fine of up to $50,000 and/or a prison term of up to 15 years. [/emember_protected]