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Lanesboro man accused of using Porsche to break his car out of Onalaska impound lot
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Lanesboro man accused of using Porsche to break his car out of Onalaska impound lot

From the What you missed this week in notable La Crosse crimes and court cases series
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A Lanesboro, Minn., man was accused Thursday of using a Porsche as a battering ram to get through two fences in Onalaska, in order to take his impounded Nissan Altima home.

He was jailed in Minnesota before he could make it, and the car was impounded a second time.

Benjamin K. Gjere, 20, was charged with operating a motor vehicle without owner’s consent, three counts of criminal damage to property and misdemeanor theft as a party to a crime and bail jumping in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

Benjamin Gjere mug

Gjere

According to the complaint, Gjere’s 2019 Altima was impounded and taken to Del’s Auto Shop in Onalaska Wednesday after he was pulled over and arrested by the Wisconsin State Patrol. Gjere tried to pick his car up the next day but was told the car wouldn’t be released until he paid the $300 towing bill.

Onalaska police say Gjere returned to Del’s at about 7:19 p.m. Sunday with an unidentified accomplice. The two men are seen on surveillance video entering the impound lot Sunday evening and then spending a couple hours wandering the lot and the shop, apparently looking for something. At about 9:50 p.m., the men broke the door handle between the office and the shop, causing the alarm to go off; however, law enforcement was not contacted by the alarm company.

According to the complaint, a 2012 Porsche was parked directly behind Gjere’s Altima in the lot and was unlocked with the keys inside.

At about 10:30 p.m., the Porsche is seen on the video accelerating in the impound lot, then through the fence on the north end of the lot. It then crashed through the fence of a house on the 100 block of Third Avenue North, and the driver drove it south on Third Avenue before abandoning it, still running, on Main Street in Onalaska.

After the Porsche cleared the way, Gjere’s Altima was driven out of the holes made by the Porsche.

About an hour later, Gjere was pulled over in Winona County for a driving complaint, according to the report. He was jailed for a driving offense, and his car was towed to a company in St. Charles, Minn.

Gjere is being held on a $1,000 cash bond and will be back in court 11 a.m. Nov. 21.


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Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering crime and courts for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218 or jvian@lacrossetribune.com.

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