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Charges: Minn. men plotted bar burglary after Super Bowl

Two Minnesota men decided the night after the Super Bowl was a prime time to strike poker machines inside a Hager City bar, according to court documents outlining how the men allegedly conspired to commit the burglary.

Pierce County prosecutors charged the men, Hastings resident Mark A. Smith and Lakeville resident Robert S. Huber, with burglary and felony criminal property damage. Smith, 30, and Huber, 31, are also charged with misdemeanor theft.

The charges stemmed from an early-morning Feb. 6 burglary at Bluffs Bar and Grill, where about $2,000 in money was stolen from gaming machines. The five machines, valued at $5,000 each, were damaged in the incident, along with a window at the bar valued at $1,500.

According to a Pierce County Sheriff's Office report, authorities were called to the bar at 4:11 a.m. after an alarm company reported entry had been made there.

Investigators reviewed external surveillance video, which indicated the suspects arrived at 3:43 a.m. Once inside, one of the two suspects spray-painted the lens of a security camera inside the bar.

They left the parking lot six minutes later. Authorities generated a general description of the suspects' vehicle based on the external surveillance video.

Pierce County investigators got information from Minnesota authorities two days later about a suspicious vehicle in Hastings matching the description of the car from the Bluffs burglary. Investigators learned the car was owned by Smith, who the report states was suspected in mail thefts and check forgery cases in Pierce County, Hastings and Red Wing.

Dakota County deputies arrested Smith on suspicion of drug offenses and of possessing an ID card displaying his photo with a Red Wing man's identity. A search of his car turned up a suspected stolen check, along with a Feb. 8 receipt for $3,027 at the Burnsville, Minn., Home Depot. A $99 receipt for a transaction later that day from Family Dollar in Ellsworth was also discovered, according to reports.

The car also contained new power tools still in their boxes, along with two sets of gloves, a printer and ink pads.

Investigators then executed a search warrant on Smith's phone, which allegedly contained a lengthy text-message conversation where he and Huber — allegedly suspected in Farmington, Minn., crimes — plotted out the burglary.

It played out like this, according to portions of a transcript in the criminal complaint detailing the multi-day conversation:

Feb. 3

Smith: Gotta hit Wisconsin this weekend

Smith: Its supetbowl

Huber: Yes

Smith: I dont care what night we do it on

Smith: Sun prob

Feb. 5

Smith: You need a ride or what

Smith: I wanna check out a house out that way anyways

Smith: Might be a good lick (Editor's note: "Lick" is used in street slang for a quick-cash robbery or theft)

Smith: The dudes dead

Huber: What u at

Smith: Ice been waiting to here from u

Huber: U still in hastings

Smith: Yeah

Smith: Whats up

Huber: Not s--- u coming with tonight to do that

Smith: Yeah fir sure

Smith: Where u at do u need s ride ... Cause ill come now and we will go to walmart then maybe ti for a bit till we do this ... Can u get a room ... just to have

Huber: I don't think I can get a room tonight I'm pretty sure they're booked

Smith: Id rather not be driving far before or after you know... I might be able to get a room in prescott... I got the keys if no ones in it wd can go there ... at least chill till we gotta go

Smith: U down to try and cash one at walmart?? I know u say it never works but u wanna try ill make sure its perfect?

Huber: I got place we can go after there in red wing trailer park nobody homw

Feb. 6, beginning at 2:19 a.m.

Smith: On my way

Smith: Are you ready

Smith: Getting gas at kwik trip ... then ill be there ... be ready

Huber: Stay at Kwik Trip. I'm almost there

The criminal complaint states Kwik Trip surveillance video shows the car arriving there at 3:17 a.m., and then leaving. The car is next see at 3:43 a.m. on external Bluffs surveillance video. Investigators said the time delay accounts for the approximate travel time from the Red Wing gas station to the Bluffs.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

(715) 426-1072
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