Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Suspect charged in disc golf course thefts

Several baskets such as this one were removed from their poles last fall at Alimagnet Park disc golf course. One of two suspects was charged in district court last week with felony theft. (File photo)

One of two teenage suspects accused of purloining equipment from Alimagnet Park disc golf course in Apple Valley last fall has been charged with felony theft in district court.

Jonathan P. Hennessy, 18, of Apple Valley, was charged May 10 in connection with the removal of six baskets ? the targets at which disc golfers hurl their hard-plastic flying discs ? between Oct. 12 and 14 of last year.

Police say the other suspect, a 17-year-old Apple Valley male, had his case handled through Dakota County?s juvenile court system. His name is not being released.

Twice in two weeks last fall police and Parks and Recreation staff received reports of baskets being removed from the course. The first incident, around Oct. 1, saw baskets removed from four or five holes on the course, and city parks workers subsequently located all of those missing baskets within the park.

The second incident, which authorities say occurred sometime between Oct. 12 and 14, saw six baskets removed. Two of the baskets were recovered ? both were found submerged just off shore in Alimagnet Lake.

In addition to the cost of replacement ? the baskets are valued at $350 apiece ? the thefts proved a nuisance for golfers, who when they teed off found themselves aiming for bare steel poles.

The thefts caught the attention of the Twin Cities disc golf community, so much so that two organizations ? the Minnesota Frisbee Association and Little Canada-based disc golf outfitters Fairway Flyerz Discs ? offered rewards totaling $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprits.

According to the criminal complaint, police contacted Hennessy after receiving an anonymous tip from two individuals who believed they knew who had taken the baskets.

Hennessy admitted to police he removed the baskets by using a pair of vice grips to dislodge the tamper-resistant screws, the complaint said.

Randy Johnson, Apple Valley?s Parks and Recreation director, said the incidents last fall were the first instances of theft or vandalism to the disc golf equipment since the course was added to the park about six years ago.

All the stolen baskets have since been replaced, Johnson added.

?They?re all back and the course is open,? he said.

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