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Police: Tomah man tricks driver before taking vehicle

November 24, 2018

WISCONSIN DELLS — Wisconsin Dells police arrested a 29-year-old Tomah man for taking a vehicle after he allegedly tricked the driver into leaving it unattended at a gas station.

Brian Patrick Murphy made his initial appearance Nov. 8 in Columbia County Circuit Court on a felony charge of taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, his second offense.

Murphy has a pretrial conference set for Jan. 14.

According to the criminal complaint, Murphy approached a man who was cleaning out the backseat of his vehicle Nov. 6 at the Mobil Gas Station on Broadway Street in Wisconsin Dells and told him the employees inside needed to speak with him. The victim told police the man was acting strangely but went inside anyway.

As the employees told him this was not true, the victim told police he witnessed Murphy driving his vehicle away from the gas station. The victim did not know Murphy, whom he described as wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants.

Two days later, a Wisconsin Dells police officer spotted the vehicle on Highway 23, the complaint states. The officer activated his emergency lights and siren, positioned behind the vehicle, but Murphy did not stop driving initially. Eventually Murphy pulled over to the right side of the road. When Murphy exited the vehicle, the officer reported a strong smell of alcohol. Police administered field sobriety tests to determine Murphy was intoxicated.

The complaint states the victim’s father-in-law is the owner of the vehicle and that neither he nor his son-in-law gave Murphy permission to take the vehicle.

Murphy could receive up to six years in prison for the felony charge and six months for his second-offense drunken driving.

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