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Granite Falls man sentenced in church burglary

GRANITE FALLS — A Granite Falls man has been sentenced to a stayed prison sentence and ordered to pay more than $16,000 in restitution after he burglarized the Granite Falls Lutheran Church in October and November.

Juan Abel Chaparro Larsen, 32, was sentenced in Yellow Medicine County District Court to 28 months in prison, which was stayed for five years. He was ordered to serve five years of supervised probation. He was given credit for 12 days already served in the Yellow Medicine County Jail.

He was also ordered to pay fines and court fees of $725 and restitution of $16,328. Among a number of conditions, he was ordered to stay away off church property and to write a letter of apology to the church.

Larsen had been charged with two felony charge of burglary, one for an Oct. 2 burglary and one for a Nov. 24 burglary, both at the church. The charge for the second burglary was dismissed in a plea agreement.

A church maintenance man called Granite Falls Police when he saw that a ground level basement window had been broken. A projector had been removed from the ceiling. It had a value of $2,578. The church provided police with the serial number, and the projector was found at a pawn shop in Minneapolis. It had been pawned under the name Juan Abel Chaparro.

On Nov. 25, another burglary was reported at the church. An air conditioner unit had been pushed in to enter the building. A Dell desktop computer, an HP monitor had been stolen from an office, and a large NEC LED projector was removed from the wall in the sanctuary. Footprints were left in the office and on the wall below the mounting for the projector. The items were valued at more than $6,000.

According to the criminal complaint, when Larsen was interviewed by authorities, he at first denied being involved. However, he was wearing shoes that matched the tread pattern of the footprints at the church. He continued to deny involvement as he was arrested and released.

During a later interview, he said he had entered the church and stolen the items, according to the complaint. He told police that he had committed the crimes because he was mad at God for taking his father. He agreed to return the computer and monitor, but the large projector was never recovered. Larsen told authorities he had given it to another person to pawn and didn't know where it was.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

(320) 214-4340