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Cops grab 3 cars stolen from Wadena dealerships

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The Wadena Police Department recovered three cars last week that were brazenly stolen from Wadena dealerships, two of them taken right off the lot and a third from a repair shop where it was being maintenanced. Although as of Monday police had yet to arrest anyone for committing the thefts themselves, Interim Chief Naomi Plautz said the WPD has identified the perpetrator(s) and that authorities were in the process of investigating and gathering evidence while they built a case.

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Last Thursday, police arrested a man they believe was in possession of one of the cars, a 2011 Ford Fusion sedan. On Aug. 8, Michael Wayne Peters, 37, Wadena, was charged in Seventh District Court with Receiving Stolen Property, a felony which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.

According to the criminal complaint, police and the dealership owner found out where the car was and that Peters was in possession of it through an informant, who later set a meeting with Peters claiming they had found him a buyer for the Fusion. The meet was initially set up by the informant to take place at the east side of Humphrey Manor, but Peters changed the location to the Wadena Food Shelf. The dealership owner watched as the phony meet took place, and the complaint said that Peters was handing the Fusion's keys to the informant as police arrived.

When authorities searched the car, they found a dry cleaning receipt with Peters' name on it pinned to a pair of blue jeans lying on the passenger side, the complaint said. Peters was then arrested. The Fusion's value is estimated at $12,000.

Peters has a list of prior convictions that includes two counts of felony criminal sexual conduct and two counts of felony theft of a motor vehicle.

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