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Teen gets community service, jail, probation for damage to cemetery, golf course break-ins

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WILLMAR -- Mathew James Zuroff, 18, of Spicer, was sentenced Monday to 60 days in the county jail, 100 hours of community service and probation until his 19th birthday for his role in a string of burglaries at the Little Crow Country Club that included stealing golf carts, playing "bumper cars" with them, running one into a lake and damaging a church cemetery.

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As part of his juvenile sentence on a total of nine charges, Zuroff was ordered to report to the Kandiyohi County Jail on Jan. 11. He will do 100 hours of community service before the balance of his jail time could be deferred. He was also ordered to pay $1,537 in restitution, jointly with his co-defendant Joshua James Haug, 17, of Spicer. Those funds are to go to the country club for its insurance deductible, a citizen whose vehicle was damaged and Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church.

Haug was found guilty in a court trial on Oct. 20 of a total of nine counts, including eight felony charges of burglary, motor vehicle theft and property damage. He will be sentenced Jan. 11.

Zuroff's sentence was on seven felony charges of burglary, motor vehicle theft and property damage, plus a misdemeanor and a gross misdemeanor property damage charge.

The charges were filed after Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputies were called to investigate three burglaries of the Little Crow Country Club in Spicer. On March 27, a deputy was called to the Nest Lake boat access, where a golf cart from the club was found floating upside down in the lake off the access point. Another was found nearby. The estimated damage was $4,216.10.

On April 5, a deputy was called to the club to investigate two golf carts missing from a storage shed. Tracks in the snow, and information from citizens, led deputies on a trail through the City of Spicer Park, the parking lot of Faith Lutheran Church, Saulsbury Beach and to an alfalfa field east of Spicer, where the damaged carts were found. Repair estimates were $2,572.

The next day, deputies were called again to the club, after a vehicle stored in the shed had been damaged. The window was smashed, and a pick ax found leaning on the car, which also had its dash damaged in an apparent attempt to steal the radio. No carts were missing as all had been disabled to prevent them being started.

On the same day, officers were called to Our Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church, where someone had repeatedly driven through a newly graded and seeded area of grass in the cemetery, and damaged a maple tree and a sprinkler head.

The investigation revealed that the carts had been damaged in both the front and the rear, as if someone had rammed them into each other or other stationary objects. The throttle linkage had also been modified to make the carts go faster. Video from the country club showed two people entering the shed and they were identified as Zuroff and Haug. Shoeprints were also taken from the prints left at the club.

Detectives spoke with Haug and Zuroff, and matched the bottoms of their shoes to those footprints. Interviews with the young men included admissions of involvement, that they wanted something to ride around on and that each had a role in breaking into the building, taking the carts, playing "bumper cars" with two of them, running one into the lake, being in the cemetery and driving the carts in Spicer.

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Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

(320) 214-4373
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