Howard and St. John hit 12 separate locations; stole more than $8,000 worth of tools
In just a week and a half, two partners in crime stole more than $8,000 worth of goods from 12 Menards stores in the metro area last summer.
The thefts took place between June 4 and June 14, 2013.
A Washington County judge convicted Lloyd Valerian Howard, 29, of a felony for the thefts, which amounted to $8,789 worth of merchandise. Howard will spend 15 months at the St. Cloud Correctional Facility and has been ordered to pay Menards $8,549 in restitution.
Howard and another suspect, identified in the criminal complaint as Phillip Charles St. John, 35, started their shoplifting spree on June 4, 2013, at the Menards stores in Golden Valley and Coon Rapids. At each store, more than $1,100 worth of items were stolen. Both times the men made their getaway in a gold minivan.
On June 6, the same pair was seen at the Apple Valley Menards, where they took about $1,200 worth of merchandise and left in a gold minivan.
According to police records, St. John was observed at the Richfield Menards June 7 attempting to steal two power drills, but left them at the checkout because a loss-prevention employee had been following him.
Police said St. John and an unidentified man were seen together stealing power tools at both the Maple Grove and Oakdale Menards stores June 10. The goods they pilfered were worth just over $1,300.
On June 11, Howard and St. John reportedly drove the gold minivan to the Golden Valley and Blaine Menards stores, where they once again took about $1,000 worth of power tools.
The pair was then spotted--this time leaving in a red four-door sedan--at the Cottage Grove and West St. Paul locations June 12. Court records stated Howard and St. John stole power tools worth about $1,000 from the Cottage Grove store, and Howard was seen taking about $269 worth of tools from the West St. Paul location.
On June 13, Howard showed up at the Maplewood Menards in the red vehicle and left with an additional $269 of merchandise, police said.
The next day, on June 14, St. John reportedly stole about $578 worth of power tools from the Forest Lake Menards store.
Police said he and Howard then made their way to the Burnsville Menards, where employees alerted authorities to their presence. Officers arrived in time to apprehend the two men.
Two women, ages 30 and 40, approached police when Howard and St. John were arrested and indicated they were with them. Officers were then able to identify the gold van as the vehicle in which all four individuals traveled between thefts.
The Oakdale Police Department brought felony theft charges against Howard in August 2013; St. John was named as a co-defendant in the case.
According to the Washington County attorney’s office, St. John failed to appear at a Feb. 13 court hearing on the felony theft charges, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
According to court records, Howard has an extensive criminal record, including a DWI and six other theft convictions of varying degrees, ranging from misdemeanor to felony charges. This is Howard’s third felony since 2011.
Johanna Holub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org  or 651-748-7822. Follow her on Twitter @jholubnews.