By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — A stolen truck has been found but thousands of dollars in high-end electronics are missing from it, so a local broadcasting group is offering a reward to anyone who can lead them to the thief of thieves.
It was a brazen crime that took place in daytime at the busy Mankato intersection of Madison Avenue and Long Street. Someone opened the locked doors of the radio music promotion truck dubbed The Punisher, popped its ignition lock cylinder, and drove away in the former beer truck stuffed with electronics.
This happened sometime between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The truck, which had been specially fitted with 72 speakers and multiple amplifiers that pumped out more than 30,000 watts of power, was stolen from the parking lot of Rockin Ronny’s. The electronics in the truck had been installed by the audio store, owned by Derran Dugger.
The truck is owned by Three Eagles Communications and had been kept at Rockin Ronny’s parking lot all winter. It’s mostly used in the summer for parades and other outdoor promotions.
An employee at Rockin Ronny’s told Dugger the truck, which also has a custom paint job advertising the Three Eagles radio stations in the Mankato area, was in the parking lot when he arrived at work at about 9 a.m. He went to grab some breakfast and the truck was gone when he returned a half hour later.
The employee assumed it had been picked up by someone at Three Eagles because the key Rockin Ronny’s had for the truck was still there. Dugger left a phone message with Denise Dose, Three Eagles general manager, to make sure that was the case when he found out the truck was gone later Wednesday. The truck was reported stolen Wednesday afternoon after Dose called back to say no one at Three Eagles had taken it.
“We went outside and looked and, sure enough, the ignition tumbler was on the ground,” Dugger said.
Within an hour or two of the theft being reported, Mankato police received word the truck was at an impound lot in Ramsey County. It had been found abandoned — and stripped of electronics equipment — along a road there.
The electronics alone are worth about $50,000, Dugger said. He said the equipment had been installed in an old beer truck because it had secure side rolling doors that could be shut and locked.
“Distributors have all that beer, so there were huge locking units on the doors,” Dugger said. “They would have had to do serious damage to get those doors open. It’s the closest thing you can get to an armored truck.
“They must have cut the locks. There is no way they could pry those doors open.”
Dose said police are checking to see if video surveillance from the nearby CVS and Walgreens stores will give them any clues.
Three Eagles plans to rebuild The Punisher if the shell of the truck can be repaired, she said. The company also is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who provides information leading to the conviction of the thief or thieves.