By Joe Bachman
Two Wisconsin Rapids residents have been arrested on burglary charges, one of whom faces multiple counts of fraud.
According to police reports, on Jan. 30 a man reported that someone had cashed a check off of his account while he was away on vacation. His bank had confirmed that another check was cashed on a different day in the same manner. The checks in question were made out to 18-year-old Mariah Czappa.
The complainant implicated a family member, identified as 27-year-old Benjamin Wirtz, as a possible suspect in the theft, as he has allegedly stolen from him in the past.
While on the phone with the complainant, who was still on vacation, police investigated the home of the potential burglary and discovered footprints and tread patterns in front of the home, as well as a back basement window broken into, considered the point of entry. Numerous items were taken from the house, including $800 in cash, jewelry, firearms, a coin collection, a television, a safe, and the checks reported cashed by the bank.
Investigators reviewed signature cards from the checks and compared them to past checks and concluded that the signatures were forged. On Jan. 28 and 29, checks were cashed in the amount of $200 and $360, respectively. According to bank copies of Czappa’s driver’s license, she was the recipient of the money on both occasions.
On Jan. 31, police received a call from the same bank to report that Czappa was attempting to cash a third forged check. According to Czappa, the check was given to her by the owner for a vehicle purchase.
Investigators further spoke with Czappa, where she allegedly admitted that she received the checks from Wirtz. Czappa claimed that she never entered the home, but that she dropped off Wirtz at the residence around 8:00 p.m. on Jan. 26.
However, according to investigators, tread patterns found in front of the house matched the tread patterns on the bottom of Czappa’s shoes.
Futher investigation into the burglary revealed that a bulk of the items taken from the house were pawned at various pawn shops in the area. After making contact with Wirtz, police found some of the items from the burglary in his possession.
If convicted, Czappa faces up to 30 years imprisonment and up to $55,000 in fines for one count of burglary and three counts of forgery. Court dates for Czappa are pending.
Wirtz faces up to 12 years and six months imprisonment and up to $25,000 in fines for one count of burglary. He also faces two misdemeanor counts of theft. His pre-trial conference is slated for March 24.