Joseph Vendela, of Siren, WI, appeared in Burnett County Circuit Court on December 21, 2016, for his first court appearance on charges of Felony Burglary of a Dwelling, a Class F Felony; Theft of Movable Property valued in excess of $2,500, a Class I Felony; and Criminal Damage to Property, a Class A Misdemeanor. If convicted on all charges, Vendela faces a potential maximum of nearly 17 years in prison.
According to the Burnett County criminal complaint filed against Vendela, in August of 2016, the Polk County Sheriff's Department contacted the Burnett County Sheriff's Department regarding a vehicle, a 1978 Ford F150 truck, which was recovered and was found to be stolen after the registered owner was contacted. The registered owner of the vehicle confirmed that he had no knowledge of the vehicle having been removed from his Burnett County property on Bucktail Drive and that he had been to that property as recently as July of 2016.
The property owner advised investigators that another vehicle, a 1986 Chevrolet truck, was also missing from the Bucktail Drive property as well as a 1984 red Honda 250cc Fourtrax ATV.
The Honda ATV was located by Polk County detectives at a Polk County residence. Interviews of those living at that Polk County residence led investigators to Joseph Vendela, and then to a second residence in Polk County. More items were located there and identified as having been taken from the Bucktail Drive property, and then turned over to officers. Investigators were advised that multiple garage sales had been held and the majority of the items removed from the Bucktail Drive property had been sold at these garage sales, or pawned at area pawn shops.
It was revealed to investigators that Vendela had brought multiple people out to the Bucktail Drive property on various occasions, telling them that his grandfather had lived there and that his grandmother gave him permission to take anything he wanted after his grandfather passed away.
Investigators confirmed with the Bucktail Drive property owner that Vendela was not given permission to remove anything from the property.
Burnett County Sheriff's investigation led them to Friberg's Gone Green recycling center in Frederic, WI, where they were able to confirm that a Chevrolet truck with a VIN # matching that of the missing Chevrolet truck had been brought to Friberg's and a signed bill of sale had been presented; after which the recycling center paid out for the truck and later crushed it for scrap metal. Investigators were also able to confirm that items including copper wiring and assorted aluminum and tin had also been removed from the Bucktail Drive property and later scrapped at Friberg's for a total payout of just over $200.
Ultimately, investigators were able to return a few of the stolen items to the property owner including a chainsaw, a power chair, a gas tank and a gasket set, in addition to the Honda ATV which had been taken from the Bucktail Drive property, however all of those items had suffered loss in value either from damage or from being dismantled.
Charges were also filed on August 8, 2016, against Vendela in Polk County Circuit Court for Receiving or Concealing Stolen Property, a Class A Misdemeanor. Vendela plead guilty on October 14, 2016, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Public record shows that Vendela was previously charged in March of 2016 with Operating a Vehicle without the Consent of the Owner in Barron County Circuit Court. Vendela plead guilty to that charge and was sentenced to 6 months county jail and 1 year of probation on May 11, 2016. Following Vendela's charges for the Burnett County Burglary, his Barron County probation was revoked and he was sent back to Barron County Jail.
Vendela is scheduled to be back in Burnett County Circuit Court on January 23, 2017.
[Photo: Burnett County Sheriff's Department]