Shoplifter attacks employee with crowbar, sets their car on fire: Charges

A shoplifter is facing assault and arson charges after attempting to hit a store employee with a crowbar, then setting their car on fire.

William Robert Olson, 47, of St. Paul, is charged with one count of second-degree assault and one count of second-degree arson from an incident at a Dollar Tree store on Sept. 26, 2022.

According to police, Olson entered the store located on Maryland Avenue in St. Paul. While he was in the store, an employee observed Olson allegedly take several items from the shelves, conceal them in his pockets and walk out without paying for them, according to the charges.

The employee stopped Olson and escorted him back inside, but he allegedly pulled a crowbar from his pocket and swung it several times at the employee but missed hitting him, according to the complaint. 

Although he didn’t know him by name, the employee recognized Olson as a person who had shoplifted from the store on several prior occasions, according to police.

Shortly after Olson fled, another Dollar Tree employee saw him back up a dark sedan and position his car along the right side of the previous employee’s Nissan Altima. The criminal complaint states they saw Olson pull out a red gas can and pour the contents all around the employee’s car, then light it on fire before running away.

On Oct. 11, the employee called to report that Olson had returned to the area and told police what he looked like.

Olson has several pending criminal cases in Ramsey County, including charges on two separate third-degree burglary charges.

He was also arrested on Dec. 1, 2022, and charged with felony theft.