SUBSCRIBE NOW Just 99¢ for your first month



Southern Minnesota man allegedly seen on video stealing more than 1,000 pills from Renville County pharmacy

When Spencer Sternhagen's southern Minnesota home was searched, authorities found clothing that appeared to match those of a man seen on video breaking into a Renville County pharmacy and stealing hundreds of prescription drugs. He's now facing drug possession and burglary charges.

Spencer Troy Sternhagen.jpg
We are part of The Trust Project.

OLIVIA — The theft of more than 1,000 pills from a Renville County pharmacy has led to charges against a Freeborn County man.

Spencer Troy Sternhagen, 32, of Emmons, made a first appearance in Renville County District Court on charges of first-degree drug possession, second-degree burglary and misdemeanor theft.

His next court date is Feb. 24.

He was ordered held on bail of $100,000 for release with no conditions or $50,000 for release with conditions. He was released from jail in January.

In November 2020, a window was broken at the Thrifty White Pharmacy in Renville, and 1,079 dosage units of controlled substances were reported stolen.


On surveillance video, a man alleged to be Sternhagen was seen on video surveillance entering the Thrifty White Pharmacy through a broken window. Video also showed him inside the store. He’s alleged to have taken the drugs, which included Adderall and hydrocodone.

Sternhagen and a woman had been seen on surveillance video earlier that night at Prairie’s Edge Casino near Granite Falls.

An investigation of the license plate of the vehicle led to a woman dating Sternhagen and to their home in Freeborn County and the town of Emmons.

A January search of Sternhagen’s home found a backpack, Nike Jordan 23 shoes, jacket, facemask and gloves matching clothing seen on the surveillance video.

The woman said she had seen him with a large pack of pills after their trip to Prairie’s Edge.

When interviewed by law enforcement, Sternhagen allegedly admitted to breaking into the pharmacy and taking a large quantity of prescription drugs which he said were for personal use and to sell.

Click to read more about Crime and Courts

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
What to read next
The Amnesty report calls for full restoration of tribal jurisdiction over crimes committed in Indian country, and increased funding for prosecution, law enforcement and health care.