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Minnesota man accused of stealing and selling $275,000 in skid steer loaders

DETROIT LAKES, MINN. - A Menahga, Minn., man is accused of receiving 17 Bobcat-type skid steer loaders, stolen from around the state, and selling most of them to a Sebeka implement dealer.

DETROIT LAKES, MINN. - A Menahga, Minn., man is accused of receiving 17 Bobcat-type skid steer loaders, stolen from around the state, and selling most of them to a Sebeka implement dealer.

The total value of the stolen skid steer loaders is estimated at nearly $275,000.

Bobby John Anttila, 50, of 56346 145th St., Menahga, has been charged in Becker County District Court with three felony counts of receiving stolen property valued at over $35,000.

In April 2006, the Becker County Sheriff's Department received information that Anttila was involved in the sale of a stolen skid steer loader. Around that time, it was learned that he had allegedly sold four stolen skid steer loaders to Darwin's Equipment in Sebeka. The loaders had been stolen from various cities around the state.

Three of the four loaders were picked up by the dealership at Anttila's residence in Becker County, according to court records.

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Anttila allegedly claimed he had bought the skid steers from a man "with cash and a handshake" and had no records to document the purchase.

Investigation by the Wadena and Becker County sheriff's departments revealed that Anttila had sold 15 skid steers to Darwin's Equipment and sold another two to private individuals.

The loaders ranged in value from $4,500 to $24,000, and had a total value of $274,500.

Darwin Lillquist, owner of Darwin's Equipment, said he acted in good faith when he purchased the skid steer loaders (all but one were Bobcats, the other was a John Deere, he said).

"He stopped in here one day and asked if we wanted Bobcats that were leased and repos," Lillquist said. "Three came in -- they were priced so we could make a little bit on them, that's how the whole thing started."

As Anttila arrived with more Bobcats, Lillquist said he grew suspicious. "He wouldn't say where he's getting them from," Lillquist said.

He started checking the serial numbers with an area Bobcat dealer.

"None of them were ever reported stolen," he said. "He'd get one or two, he'd call us. We didn't buy them all."

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After a North Dakota man bought a virtually new Bobcat, he went in search of warranty information, and the Bobcat dealer in North Dakota told him it was stolen. That's how the case came about, Lillquist said.

It turns out many of the Bobcats were stolen in the summer months from businesses that used them for snow removal, and "nobody noticed they were gone until they needed them," Lillquist said. "Some went five to seven weeks before they were reported stolen."

Darwin's Equipment paid back everybody who had purchased a stolen skid steer loader, and will now seek restitution from Anttila as part of his court case.

"We'd sure like to see restitution. It's been two years now," Lillquist said.

A warrant was issued for Anttila on Nov. 27 and he appeared in Becker County District Court Nov. 30. He posted $3,000 cash bail and was released. He was ordered not to leave the state, except to travel back and forth to Texas. His next court appearance is Jan. 7.

The Detroit Lakes Tribune and The Forum are both owned by Forum Communications Co. Minnesota man accused of stealing and selling $275,000 in skid steer loaders 20071204

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