A Soldotna man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three vehicle theft charges and the burglary of a Soldotna auto shop last month.
The grand jury indicted Eric Roberts, 28, on three counts of vehicle theft in the first-degree, and one count of burglary in the second-degree. The charges are class C felonies and if convicted each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Roberts was arraigned in Kenai Superior Court Tuesday in front of Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman. Roberts was also charged with two misdemeanors, criminal mischief for property damage and theft in the third degree.
Alaska State Trooper Casey Hershberger of the property crime unit, arrested Roberts on Oct. 21 after he admitted to stealing three vehicles from AAA Auto on the Kenai Spur Highway on Sept. 11, according to a trooper affidavit filed in court.
The affidavit states the owners of the auto shop, Donald Boston and Craig Thomsen, suspected the burglar was familiar with the business and building. The burglar gained entry by removing screws from the front door mail slot and reached in to unlock the door from the inside. Once inside, the burglar damaged a video system, tampered with a gun safe and pried open a lock box to steal five sets of keys.
Three vehicles were stolen: a 2002 Subaru Impreza, a red 1995 Subaru Legacy and a green 1997 Subaru Legacy.
Two days after the reported theft, the red and silver Subarus were found. One was located on Strawberry Road and the other in the West Poppy area near where Roberts lived, according to the report.
The green Subaru was recovered from some bushes near AAA Auto on Sept. 16. Roberts’ mother, Vicki Vinzant, returned three of the five sets of keys to the shop. Two of the keys matched the silver and red Subarus. Roberts denied knowing where the rest of the keys were, according to the affidavit.
Vinzant told troopers Roberts also stole a set of Subaru tires valued at $525 and sold them to a Soldotna business, Steam on Wheels.
Roberts told troopers he wanted to apologize to the owners for the incident. Roberts indicated he was under the influence during the incident, according to the report.
Thomsen said he would like to see all the “druggie thieves” locked up. He declined to comment on the details of the case while it is still under investigation.
Roberts is currently jailed at Wildwood Pretrial Facility. His trial is set for the week of Jan. 20, 2015.
Reach Dan Balmer at email@example.com.