St. Paul man arrested on theft, drug charges

John DiFrancesca
     In another report of out-of-town thieves preying upon Eagan retailers, a Saint Paul man was arrested on drug and theft charges by police responding to a report of a theft in progress.
     Shortly before 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 15, a local business reported a man previously arrested for theft from the store was back at the business attempting to return items. Police allege the man entered the store with receipts, then pulled items from the shelves matching the receipts. The suspect would then bring the items to the exchange counter to return them for cash.
     The suspect left the store after receiving nearly $208 in cash for the fraudulent returns, according to court records.
     An Eagan police officer arrested the suspect in the store parking lot. The officer found a backpack in a shopping cart the suspect was pushing from the store. Inside the backpack was a jacket that had been stolen from the store and a glass pipe, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. Police found a plastic bag containing a substance that field-tested positive for .20 grams of methamphetamine, according to court records.
     The suspect, John DiFrancesca, 43, of 841 Carroll Ave., St. Paul, was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, misdemeanor theft under $500, and misdemeanor theft by swindle, according to court records.
     Eagan Police Chief Jim McDonald recently warned the city council of “an influx of criminals preying on our merchants.”
Minnesota Vikings executives appeared in Eagan Oct. 23 for a media tour of its new headquarters in the largely undeveloped northeast section of the city. The organization reports the new site is about 70 percent complete.

Hopkins man charged in Eagan store theft

   A Hopkins man is facing a drug and theft charge in connection with an early morning theft from an Eagan store.
     Isaiah Vasquez-Naughton, 21, of 50 7th Ave. S., Hopkins was charged with one count of gross misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and one count of misdemeanor theft under $500, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint. He has been summoned to appear at the Dakota County Judicial Center on Nov. 27.
     The charge stems from a report of a theft from a store shortly before 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 23. A police officer noticed a man running from the store with a shopping basket. The officer saw the man dump the items into the back seat of a car. Police ordered the car to stop and arrested Vasquez-Naughton, according to court records.
     During a search of the suspect incident to his arrest, police found a paper bindle containing a crystal substance that field-tested positive for .09 grams of methamphetamine.
     The stolen merchandise was valued at about $340.