Charges: St. Paul tow truck driver scrapped cars, allegedly to support meth habit

The owner of American Towing and Recovery in St. Paul said he lost his largest account with the Salvation Army after one of his drivers stole several cars from his lot, then hauled them to a nearby scrapper. The man allegedly put it all on the line to support his meth habit.

Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom said tow truck driver Eugene Steichen spent some of the summer scrapping cars he stole. Steichen stole four vehicles this past summer, Backstrom, said,

A 1990 Ford F-150, a 1989 Cadillac DeVille, a 2000 Chevy Malibu and a 2000 Dodge Neon.

According to the criminal complaint, Steichen brought the stolen cars to Metro Metals Recycling in St. Paul. His old boss told Fox 9 he scrapped the cars without keys, without titles and without any paperwork. Even with a police officer checking VINS every single day, Steichen was able to get about $250 dollars for two of the four cars – perhaps half of what he would've gotten with the proper paper work.

Steichen's lengthy rap sheet includes a second-degree murder conviction in 1984 and a controlled substance crime in 2005. Steichen's boss told police he was aware the former driver was a past meth user and that he started using again. In recent texts to his boss, Steichen apologized, writing he was "back on that [expletive] dope."

"Just because it's a disease doesn't mean it's an excuse to commit crime," Backstrom said.

If guilty, Steichen could head back to prison for up to five years and is currently being held in Ramsey County on an unrelated charge.

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