A Minnesota woman has been charged with felony auto theft after she and two companions allegedly forced a woman to give up her car in the parking lot of a Cameron restaurant, according to a complaint filed on Nov. 26, in Barron County Circuit Court.
The defendant is identified as 51-year-old Rhonda L. Kleinbeck, of Baudette, Minn.
The complaint said Cameron police were alerted to the incident when the car owner came to the Chetek Police Department on Oct. 31 to report the alleged theft.
The owner said she was stopped at CTH SS and Hwy. 8 in Cameron on Oct. 30, when a sport utility vehicle pulled up alongside her. Three people were in the vehicle, two of whom the victim knew. The people in the SUV “started yelling obscenities at her and telling her to pull over.” She parked in the Crossroads Cafe parking lot.
The owner said the people in the SUV kept yelling at her, and she “was scared about what they might do” if she didn’t comply with their demands. Two women, one of whom was later identified as the defendant, said they wanted the victim’s car. The owner “believed (the two women) would harm her if she didn’t let them take the (car).”
She said the defendant slid into the driver’s seat while the third SUV passenger, a man whom the victim knew, got into the passenger seat. Both vehicles left the lot.
The victim told police she was the vehicle owner. A records check later showed the car was registered to her.
On Nov. 2, the Chetek officer spoke with the defendant, who allegedly admitted taking the victim’s car. But she insisted that it belonged to the man she was with during the Oct. 30 incident. She said the car was titled to the victim because the man didn’t have a driver’s license at the time he bought the car.
Asked if she would return the car to the registered owner, the defendant said she wasn’t willing to do so until the man got out of jail.
Later that day, police listed the car stolen. By late afternoon, the defendant drove the car to the Cameron Police Department and surrendered it to village police, saying she wouldn’t turn it over in Chetek because she thought she would be arrested.
Court records said the defendant made an initial appearance Wednesday, Nov. 27, and was freed on signature bond pending a preliminary hearing on Thursday, Dec. 5.