Man charged in series of crimes in New Prague

Scott County deputies said Dwayne Edward Roach, 59, stole a New Prague fire department vehicle and then targeted the home and property of a complete stranger.

NEW PRAGUE, Minnesota — A Twin Cities man faces a litany of criminal charges for allegedly committing a series of destructive crimes that began with a stolen fire engine.

These charges are against Dwayne Edward Roach, 59, of Belle Plaine, who prosecutors say damaged property at the home of a complete stranger and then set it on fire.

A criminal complaint says Scott County deputies were dispatched shortly before noon on May 4 after reports of a fire in Cedar Lake Township, not far from New Prague. When law enforcement arrived, they found heavy smoke billowing from a storage barn on the property with a vehicle from Prague’s new fire department parked nearby.

Investigators say they noticed a man, later identified as Roach, driving a side-by-side UTV while wearing a New Prague Fire Department high-visibility jacket. The man drove over a birdhouse, then parked the UTV near another barn and ran inside. Deputies say Roach came back outside when they approached holding a lighter.

Law enforcement struggled with Roach before eventually taking him into custody. In the criminal complaint, they describe his pupils as dilated and his eyes bloodshot.

While at the scene, deputies noticed smoke billowing from the lower level of the house onto the property. After firefighters responded, investigators entered the house with a fire marshal and learned that the fire likely started in a downstairs bedroom, where a burnt matchbook was located. under a pile of burnt clothes.

Authorities say the owner arrived on the scene and told them a tractor had been stolen from a barn and crashed into another structure and an ice fishing house. He said no one should have been on the property and he did not know the suspect.

The criminal complaint says that while being transported to prison, Roach admitted to stealing the fire engine and, when booking it, allegedly asked if prison staff had found the drugs in his wallet. A search revealed a bag filled with a substance which later tested positive for methamphetamine.

Investigators later learned that the fire engine had been stolen earlier in the day while parked at the New Prague utility building. The surveillance tape would show Roach entering the building, walking towards a set of controls and turning them all the way. City utility officials say his actions could have caused the New Prague water tower to overflow if alarms had not alerted employees to what was happening.

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Berta D. Wells