Cigarette Butt, Gatorade Bottle Left at Scene of Crime Lead to Arrest in Burglary of Former Movie Theater in St. Michael

Clay Anthony Swanson, 31, is charged with allegedly stealing more than 650 pounds of copper wiring from the foreclosed building last year.


A DNA sample from a cigarette butt and a Gatorade bottle at the site of the former Cinemagic Theater in St. Michael led police to arrest a suspect last week on burglary and theft charges.

Clay Anthony Swanson, 31 of Faribault was arrested Jan. 2 by Wright County deputies on a warrant for allegedly breaking into the building in February 2012, and stealing more than $100,000 worth of copper wiring, according to a criminal complaint filed in October 2012 by Wright County Attorney's Office.

He is charged with second-degree burglary; first-degree damage to property, reduced to the level of "over $1,000;" and damage or theft of telecommunications lines and wires.

The trail of evidence was left at the scene of missing ceiling panels and electrical box panels that allowed access to copper wiring — a "substantial amount" of wiring had been removed, according to the complaint.

Police also found a large garbage can filled with spools of copper wiring wrapped in balls.

The cigarette butt and Gatorade bottle were submitted for DNA testing in May 2012. Investigators checked the DNA against Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Convicted Offender Database and found it matched Swanson's DNA, according to the complaint.

In late February, investigators also checked with local recycling companies and discovered that Swanson had recycled more than 650 pounds of copper wiring.

The cigarette butt was found near a panel against the wall, which police believe was used as a ladder to reach the wiring in the ceiling.

CineMagic closed in March 2012, and a deal by the City of St. Michael to redevelop it fell through. The city continues to talk with potential buyers of the site.

United Banker's Bank, the owner of the foreclosed building reported to police that when electrical wire had been stripped, it caused a power arc or surge.

"Given the high voltage, it was surprising that the intruder was not electrocuted," stated the criminal complaint. Bank officials reported that the surge damaged three heating and air conditioning units on top of the building.

Swanson declined to provide police with a statement after his arrest last week.

David January 11, 2013 at 04:55 PM
This should be communicated to the When Stupid Criminals are Caught website.
Happy in St. Michael January 13, 2013 at 01:54 AM
I agree, David. Now, I hope he has to pay every single cent of damage he caused!


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