A Mayfield man has been charged in Pennington County District Court after he learned of his arrest warrant, fled a drug rehab center, and stole a motor vehicle in Dilworth. Via an app, the vehicle owner tracked the vehicle to a rural St. Hilaire property.
Rayne Austin Villa, 21, has been charged with felony offenses of motor vehicle theft and possession of the stolen property. A warrant has been issued for Villa’s arrest since he is incarcerated in Grand Forks County, N.D., where he is accused of tampering with a motor vehicle.
The Pennington County complaint was signed Thursday, Feb. 17. Villa was allegedly linked to the crime via witness statements and surveillance video. According to the complaint, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office received a report Wednesday, Feb. 2 that a 2019 Kia Sorento had been stolen out of the parking lot of Serenity Assisted Living Center in Dilworth. The vehicle had been idling outside of the facility at the time. It contained the owner’s purse, ID cards, credit cards, work computer, and medical supplies.
The owner was able to provide a deputy with the GPS location of the vehicle via a tracking app. She reported that the vehicle appeared to be stationary at 14834 127th St. S.E. in St. Hilaire. The sheriff’s investigator and two deputies converged on the home to conduct surveillance. The investigator later departed to draft a search warrant for the home and outbuildings. While the investigator was gone, a drone flew from the home and hovered in front of a deputy’s vehicle. The drone then returned to the home.
Based on this information, the investigator instructed the deputies to drive to the home, secure the scene to ensure the stolen vehicle remained there, and speak with people at the home.
A deputy then drove to the home and saw the stolen Kia Sorento. He and the other deputy spoke to the individuals and secured the vehicle. They allegedly said that Villa had dropped off the vehicle and left the property with someone else. The investigator obtained video surveillance footage that depicted a man getting into the vehicle in Dilworth at about 3:13 p.m. Feb. 2 and then leaving the area.
He also learned that prior to Feb. 2, a Pennington County court order placed Villa in treatment at Anchorage Drug Rehab Center in Moorhead. He allegedly wasn’t complying with the rules and regulations at the facility, leading a Pennington County warrant to be issued for his arrest.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office was in the process of locating a deputy to arrest Villa; however, Villa learned about the warrant and fled the facility. Anchorage is located 0.09 miles from Serenity. Video surveillance footage from Anchorage allegedly depicted Villa wearing clothing similar to the individual who stole the vehicle.
The owner later reported that fraudulent transactions had been made on her Capital One credit card, which had been located inside her vehicle at the time of the vehicle theft. A total of $26.89 had been charged at Twin Valley Cenex Community Cooperative.
The investigator obtained video surveillance footage, showing the vehicle driving up to a gas pump at about 4:33 p.m. that day. A man allegedly used the pay-at-the-pump feature to charge $26.89. He then entered the store to buy a Mountain Dew and paid for it with cash.
The woman said she had cash in her vehicle at the time of the theft. The investigator allegedly identified Villa as the man in the surveillance video. The man was also seen wearing clothing similar to what Villa had been wearing earlier that day.
The investigator also learned that someone had attempted to use the woman’s credit card twice for $1 each at Kruse In in St. Hilaire. However, the transactions were declined. As a result, Kruse In was unable to determine when those attempts were made or provide surveillance footage of the attempted transactions.
Investigators from both the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office and Thief River Falls Police Department processed the stolen vehicle. They swabbed the steering wheel and shift lever for DNA. Swabs were also obtained from the vehicle owner to eliminate her. Inside the vehicle, they allegedly found a cigarette butt and an empty Camel crush cigarette pack. The items didn’t belong to her. The woman’s credit cards, checkbook, ID cards, wallet, purse, work computer, and cellular hotspot were missing from the vehicle.