By Luke Klink
Four Conrath residents were arrested last week, suspected in a complex string of burglaries across three counties. Numerous items from the burglaries have been recovered, including several trailers, many antique items and a .25 caliber handgun.
Greg Allen, 33, Mason DeRidder, 24, David Engelking-Deleon Jr., 23, and Payden Montonya, 22, are suspected in over 15 felonies. The four suspects were arrested over the past several days on burglary activities within Rusk, Chippewa and Taylor counties and the City of Ladysmith.
The suspected individuals primarily targeted properties they thought were abandoned, in foreclosure or seasonal cabins. Several of the suspects admitted to taking the property to several local “e-merchants” who legally engage in business via the Internet websites for Craigslist and Ebay with the rest of the “scrap” going to local scrap dealers and junk yards. The scrap dealers and “e-merchants” have been cooperative with law enforcement and possibly may be considered as victims via theft by fraud. Some property has been recovered and returned to the victims, including a car-hauling trailer taken from the Ladysmith High School, several custom truck tires, an all-terrain vehicle, SCUBA diving equipment and antiques.
All four suspects remain in custody at the Rusk County Jail at this time. Allen and Engelking-Deleon Jr. made initial appearances in Rusk County Circuit Court last Thursday. Montonya was scheduled to appear in court on Monday.
Montonya and DeRidder are held in the Rusk County Jail on separate $5,000 and $10,000 cash bonds.
The Rusk County Sheriff’s Office and the Chippewa County Sheriffs Office are jointly investigating the burglaries.
Allen was charged last week with burglary to a building or dwelling and bail jumping, both felonies; and theft of moveable property less than $2,500 and criminal damage to property, both misdemeanors. Cash bond was set at $1,000 with the condition he have no contact with DeRidder, Montonya or Engelking-Deleon. He was scheduled to make an initial appearance on Tuesday, Jan. 15.
DeRidder was charged last week with burglary to a building or dwelling and bail jumping, both felonies; and misdemeanors of theft of moveable property less than $2,500 criminal damage to property, and bail jumping. He was also charged with felony bail jumping and misdemeanor bail jumping and retail theft more than $500. Cash bond was set at $10,000. An initial appearance is set for Feb. 26.
Montonya was charged with felony burglary to a building or dwelling and misdemeanors of theft of moveable property less than $2,500 and criminal damage to property. Cash bond was set at $5,000 with the condition he reside at his grandfather’s home if bond is posted. His initial appearance was scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14.
Engelking-Deleon Jr. has been charged with felony burglary to a building or dwelling and misdemeanors of theft of movable property less than $2,500, criminal damage to property and bail jumping. An initial appearance date has not been set.