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Teen pleads in Atwater burglary business case

WILLMAR -- Austin Thomas Klinghagen, 18, of Grove City, pleaded guilty Wednesday to two felony charges, for liability for crimes of another - third-degree burglary, for his role in burglarizing two Atwater businesses in October.

As part of a plea agreement reached in Kandiyohi County District Court, five additional felony charges of burglary, theft and property damage will be dismissed. He will be sentenced March 30. Restitution in the case is to be determined.

Klinghagen was one of three young men charged in the case. Damon Dwight Weiderhoft, 20, of Cosmos, and Kyle Richard Litzau, 18, of Atwater, each face seven felony charges of burglary, theft and property damage for the Oct. 15 incident. They are also charged with misdemeanor theft. Both men have their next court appearance on March 9.

The same three individuals were charged in Meeker County District Court with burglary, theft and property damage for allegedly burglarizing three Grove City businesses two days after the Atwater incidents.

According to the complaint, a Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputy was called on a burglary report around 7 a.m. Oct. 16 at Atwater Ag. Employees had arrived that morning to find someone had entered the building and gone through the offices. A fax machine and calculator were damaged, and candy bars and a camera were stolen. A briefcase containing personal checks, a watch and bottle of liquor was stolen. It was later recovered near Litzau's home. The damage was estimated at more than $2,000.

Another officer was called around 7:30 a.m. the same day by one of the owners of Island Pines Golf Course. The owner said he could see two of the course's golf carts in a nearby creek. Another cart was discovered near the edge of Tad Lake.

At the golf course, the officer found the pro shop had been entered and ransacked. Papers, files, score cards, golf balls and other merchandise were thrown about the floor. A printer, computer and cash register were damaged, and it appeared golf clubs had been used to smash holes in the wall and to smash beverage containers. Golf course officials tallied the damage -- not including the golf carts -- to be $4,430. A number of items had also been stolen from the club, including a TV. The total value of missing items was estimated at $2,029.34.

A fourth golf cart was later found smashed into the fence at the ball field. The total damage to the carts was estimated at $4,062.

That same day, Atwater police were informed the Meeker County Sheriff's Office had investigated the Grove City burglaries. Through the investigation, officers learned Klinghagen and Litzau had allegedly done graffiti damage in Meeker County and that computers and other stolen items were stored at the home of a relative of Weiderhoft.

Officers went to the home and found stolen computers, electronics and other items from both the Atwater and Grove City burglaries.

On Oct. 31, Litzau was interviewed at the Atwater Police Station. He said he and Klinghagen drove the golf carts and caused the damage. He said Weiderhoft took the television, adding all three went into the building and caused damage to it. He also admitted the three were involved in the Atwater Ag incident.

The same day, Klinghagen turned himself in to Meeker County officials and allegedly admitted involvement in the burglaries.

Weiderhoft turned himself in on Nov. 4. He claimed he was present at the Atwater burglaries, but did nothing. He admitted to storing items at his relative's residence. In a second interview, he admitted to taking the television from the golf course. He also said Klinghagen took the items from Atwater Ag while he waited outside.