DODGE COUNTY -- Charges have been filed against a 48-year-old Neosho man, accused of stealing a television and a vehicle from a man known as "Safe Ride Ron" in Beaver Dam.
The theft occurred on December 29th.
Authorities say the incident began when Ron Gafner, a driver for Dodge County's SafeRide program was contacted by officials at Tower Lanes, and asked to give a patron a ride home who had too much to drink.
It's something Gafner does often as a SafeRide driver. He has been driving intoxicated patrons home for free for four years.
Gafner picked up the man, who has been identified as 48-year-old Brian Krieger, and took him to an address located on Lake Crest Drive.
"It happened during the snowstorm," Gafner said.
It was near white-out conditions as heavy snow fell. Krieger, who said he was from out of town, asked to be driven to an apartment complex.
"SafeRide Ron" Gafner
According to officials, Krieger was unable to make contact with anyone in the building and could not get in. Gafner then took Krieger to a Kwik Trip gas station so he could use the ATM -- but Krieger told Gafner he couldn't get any money.
Gafner then offered to take Krieger anywhere he needed to, but Krieger said he didn't have anywhere else to go.
"It`s 3 in the morning. I don`t want the guy to freeze to death, so I told the guy 'here -- what I`ll do, I`ll let you sleep on my sofa,'" Gafner said.
Gafner didn't know his kindness would cost him.
"I get up at 8:00 a.m. -- TV`s gone. He`s gone, and his blanket is," Gafner said.
Gafner says in addition, a vehicle was taken that is owned by a friend of Gafner who is in assisted living.
Authorities say the key for the stolen vehicle was hanging on a peg just inside the door to Gafner's home.
"I couldn't believe it," Gafner said.
The vehicle was recovered by Milwaukee police on December 30th, near Fond du Lac and Silver Spring Drive in Milwaukee. Soda bottles and cigarette butts were recovered, and the vehicle was swabbed for DNA.
Authorities then asked for the public's help in locating Brian Krieger.
He was taken into custody on a probation hold on January 3rd by Waukesha police.
According to the complaint, Krieger contacted his ex-wife, and indicated he "knew he was in trouble" and "believed there was a warrant out for his arrest," and that he "would wind up going to jail." Krieger indicated he wanted to see his children before he turned himself in. Arrangements were made for Krieger and his ex-wife to meet at a transit hub in Waukesha, and he was taken into custody there.
Now, he is facing the following charges:
According to the criminal complaint, Krieger was on probation/parole out of Dodge County at the time of the alleged theft.
The complaint says when speaking with Krieger at the Dodge County Detention Facility, he said on Christmas Eve, he contacted his ex-wife in an effort to see his children, and became upset when he was denied the opportunity to do so. Krieger said he then took a Chevrolet Cavalier without permission from the area near Gundrum Trucking in Slinger, after he found the keys in the vehicle.
On December 28th, Krieger said he drove the Cavalier to Beaver Dam, at which point the vehicle apparently stopped working. Krieger said he left the vehicle on the roadway where it broke down and began walking.
The Cavalier was recovered by Beaver Dam police on December 29th.
According to the complaint, Krieger told officials he eventually made his way to Tower Lanes in Beaver Dam. Krieger said no one there would give him a ride, but eventually, a bartender made arrangements for him to be picked up by "Safe Ride Ron."
Krieger told investigators Safe Ride Ron picked him up, and drove him to Safe Ride Ron's home. Krieger said he was attempting to contact a friend to see if he could stay at their home, but he was unable to make contact with anyone at his friend's home.
They then went to the Kwik Trip on Madison Street in Beaver Dam so Krieger could try to get some money from an ATM -- but that was unsuccessful.
They then went back to Safe Ride Ron's home, where Krieger spent the night.
The complaint indicates Krieger told officials at some point, he woke up and removed Ron Gafner's flat screen television from his home, and placed it in Gafner's car. However, Krieger said he was unable to start Gafner's car with keys that were in the home, so he moved the television to the van that was in Gafner's driveway.
Krieger said he took the van down to Milwaukee's north side and it ran out of gas near Fond du Lac and Silver Spring.
Krieger told investigators that on December 30th, the next day, he got a ride from someone in Milwaukee, and was taken down to "the hood." Krieger said he sold Gafner's television to an African-American man in Milwaukee for $80.
Krieger told investigators he then got on a bus and was taken to the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. While there, he was given a urine test and found to have numerous drugs in his body, according to the complaint. Krieger said he didn't buy or use any drugs -- but felt someone may have slipped him some drugs while he was in "the hood." According to Krieger's statement to investigators, Krieger said he had methadone, heroin and marijuana in his system but didn't recall purchasing or using those drugs.
On January 3rd, Krieger said he was released from the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex, and he then took a bus to meet his ex-wife in Waukesha and see his children. He was then arrested.
When Krieger was arrested, he was found with the keys for the stolen Cavalier and Ron Gafner's vehicle and van. Krieger told investigators he had the keys because he planned on returning the vehicles to the owners.
According to the complaint, Krieger said he is an alcoholic and has used drugs in the past. He said he was attempting to get his life on the right track by getting a job -- but said after his ex-wife told him he couldn't see the children on Christmas Eve, he "began making bad decisions."
The complaint makes reference to a case out of Dodge County for which Krieger was on probation/parole at the time of the alleged incident in Washington County. In that case, Krieger was convicted of taking and driving a vehicle without the owner's consent.
Krieger will make his initial appearance in court in this case on March 14th.