Serial shoplifter arrested, then released on $500 bail despite multiple warrants

Serial shoplifter arrested, then released on $500 bail despite multiple warrants

Serial shoplifter arrested, then released on $500 bail despite multiple warrants

Law enforcement is actively looking for a serial shoplifter around the Twin Cities after he was recently released from the Carver County jail on just $500 bail.

Angelo Wagner Jr. had warrants in at least three counties when Minneapolis police arrested him on Thanksgiving, just days after 5 INVESTIGATES first reported Wagner’s extensive history of shoplifting at dozens of stores across the metro area.

Target alone blames Wagner for more than $125,000 in losses, according to police records. 

After his arrest in November, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office says it asked a judge to hold Wagner on $50,000 bail. But instead, he was transferred in custody to Carver County to face an outstanding felony theft charge. 

That’s when a prosecutor requested a $5,000 bond or $500 cash bail. Records show Wagner paid the bail with a credit card and walked out of jail the same day. 

‘Slip through the cracks’

A judge issued a new warrant for Wagner’s arrest last week after he failed, again, to show up for court. 

In a written response to questions from 5 INVESTIGATES, Carver County Attorney Mark Metz said “it was not believed that Mr. Wagner would be able to post this bail amount” of $500 and that he “would remain in custody.”

Metz also blamed state court administrators for eliminating prosecutors’ access to software that allowed them to access a defendant’s criminal history. 

“This necessary tool to quickly look up warrant history was not available at the time of the bail hearing,” Metz wrote. “We are now keenly aware of Mr. Wagner’s extensive criminal history.”

Erica MacDonald, a former U.S. attorney and district court judge, says she understands the public’s frustration with cases such as Wagner’s. 

“As a system, we need to work together better, stronger and smarter to make sure that we’re not letting things like this slip through the cracks,” MacDonald said.

Despite statutory limitations to setting bail in any given case, MacDonald says those decisions often hinge on two key factors — the defendant’s flight risk and whether they pose a danger to the community.

“People need to understand that ‘danger to the community’ can also be economic danger to the community,” MacDonald said. “When you start committing theft and it starts becoming a six-digit number, according to what the reports are, that’s significant economic harm and has a direct impact on the community.”

Unexpected phone call

Following multiple attempts to reach Wagner over the last month, he called 5 INVESTIGATES on the phone Wednesday afternoon.

“This all started because I was starving,” Wagner said about his history of retail theft. “There was no food in the refrigerator — something had to give.”

Wagner acknowledged his more recent crimes were because he has “bills to pay,” and he added that he plans to turn himself in to authorities, but not until after the holidays.

When 5 INVESTIGATES asked him if he was done stealing from stores, Wagner said, “Absolutely, because of you.” 

If Wagner is convicted of his latest theft charge in Carver County, that he stole an Apple iPad Pro from Target in Waconia, Metz says Wagner faces a “presumptive sentence” of 21 months in prison.