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Alleged Car Thief Flees Police Through Local Church's Lawn

Gerald Lee Dettman, 39, is charged with two felonies in Hennepin County.

An Apple Valley man faces two felony charges after he allegedly stole a car and tried to flee police, ultimately driving through a Southwest Minneapolis church lawn before he was stopped.

Gerald Lee Dettman, 39, was charged in Hennepin County Court with theft of a motor vehicle and fleeing an officer in a motor vehicle, according to a criminal complaint against him. He’s in custody at Hennepin County Jail, with bail set at $50,000.

On April 26, Minneapolis police responded to a report that a suspicious vehicle was parked outside a Minneapolis residence, according to the complaint. Police found the car was stolen, and DNA from cigarette butts in the car matched Dettman’s, the complaint says.

On May 25, police received information that Dettman was staying at a hotel on the 5700 block of Lyndale Avenue South, according to the complaint. One officer set up surveillance of a stolen car located at the hotel, while two officers patrolled the area in a marked squad car, the complaint says.

The first officer reported that he saw a person get into the vehicle and drive away; the vehicle passed in front of the officer, who identified the person as Dettman, the complaint says.

The squad car chased the vehicle for one mile with its sirens on, but the driver, allegedly Dettman, didn’t stop until driving down a dead-end street and through a church lawn on the 500 block of West 54th Street in Minneapolis, according to the complaint.

Dettman allegedly told police that he already has enough felonies that he knows he's going to prison.

Dettman has 19 other cases on file in the Minnesota court system, court records show, and has been convicted of several crimes in Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey and Scott counties, including thefts of motor vehicles, burglaries, lurking, stalking, check forgery and credit card fraud.

The maximum penalty Dettman could face if convicted of both charges in this case is eight years in prison and a $15,000 fine. His first court appearance is on June 14.

Peter D. June 03, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Dettman also has a past history of burglarizing houses in SW Minneapolis, and was caught posing as a contractor last year while he cased houses.

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