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Emily Welker, Published April 25 2013

Charges allege suspects ran out of gas in stolen car after two failed Clay County burglaries

MOORHEAD – County prosecutors here have filed criminal charges against two men who are accused of trying and failing to burglarize an ATM at a rural general store and a bait shop before stealing a car and running out of gas.

Derek Conway McClure, 23, of Dilworth, and Nicholas Wallace Johnson, 22, whose address is listed as the Becker County jail, are charged in Clay County District Court with one count each of second-degree burglary, possession of burglary tools and theft of a motor vehicle, all felonies. The second-degree burglary charge carries with it a 10-year sentence, if convicted.

Court documents filed against the two men Thursday state that on April 1, Clay County sheriff’s department Detective Jason Hicks responded to a business alarm at 205 1st St. S.W. in Ulen, Minn., to find the front doors open and an ATM in the open doorway propping the doors open. A safe was also out of position with the handle broken, and there were tool pry marks on the inside of the doors.

However, the only item missing appeared to be cigarettes.

Authorities allege in the complaint that a store surveillance video showed two men wearing gloves and with their faces obscured entering the store, with one man heading to the cash register and the other dragging the ATM to the door.

A red Chevy Tahoe was also seen in video. The Tahoe was later found in the ditch just west of the store, and it in the detective found a crowbar, a business card, a Hex multi tool and three unopened packs of cigarettes, court records allege.

The car was registered to McClure’s brother, according to the complaint.

Hicks interviewed McClure, who allegedly told him he broke into the general store and tried to steal the ATM, with the help of Johnson, whose idea McClure said it was.

According to court records, McClure told Hicks he and Johnson got scared when they saw headlights and left the ATM at the door, then got the red Tahoe stuck in a ditch. They then ran across a Mitsubishi with the keys inside it, which McClure said they stole and took to a bait shop in Lake Park, he told Hicks.

After attempting and failing to break in to the bait shop, they drove south and ran out of gas about a mile from the store, authorities claim McClure said.

Documents also state McClure and Johnson have previous burglary convictions, and Johnson is being held in Becker County on new burglary charges.

Arrest warrants were issued for both men.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541