Minn. man arrested on military airfield charged with 5 felonies

A Duluth man with a substantial history of burglaries was formally charged Monday with five felonies after authorities said he stole 14 guns and led officers on a car and foot chase that ended on the 148th Fighter Wing Air National Guard airfield.

Jeffrey Jerome Hoff, 52, was charged in State District Court in Duluth with first-degree burglary, felon in possession of a firearm, felony theft of firearms or property valued over $35,000, theft of motor vehicle and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle.

According to court records, Hoff has at least eight previous first- and second-degree burglary convictions.

Judge Dale Harris set Hoff’s bail at $50,000 and granted an application for a public defender during an arraignment hearing. There was not yet an attorney assigned to the case Monday evening, according to court records. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The charges stem from a Thursday evening chase that authorities said began at a Rice Lake Township home and ended on the tarmac of the 148th Fighter Wing.

Emergency dispatchers received a call at about 4:45 p.m. from a man who reported that he saw someone else driving his truck near his rural Rice Lake Township home.

“He proceeded to his home a short distance away and found his garage door open, his truck missing, the front door to his residence open, his house ransacked, and that he was missing various items including 14 guns,” the complaint says.

Moments after the 911 call was placed, sheriff’s deputies at a nearby business saw a truck matching the man’s description pass at a high rate of speed, according to the complaint. The truck continued to speed and drive on the shoulder and into oncoming traffic.

A U.S. Border Patrol agent pursued the vehicle as the driver attempted to enter the Duluth International Airport. The truck then crashed into a barricade, and the driver ran eastbound through the woods, according to the complaint.

Officers from the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol and a Hermantown Police Department K-9 unit followed a single track of footprints through deep snow that led to the fence at the 148th Fighter Wing.

At the same time, Duluth police officers, conservation officers, border patrol agents and military police began a search at the airbase. Military police observed a man, later identified as Hoff, climb the fence and enter the restricted airport runway area, the complaint alleges.

Officers, with guns drawn, took Hoff into custody on the tarmac. The complaint says he was wearing a wig, a ski mask and a single glove at the time of the arrest.

In searching the stolen truck, officers found 14 guns and other stolen property, along with a single glove that matched the one Hoff was wearing, according to the complaint. Hoff allegedly claimed that the property and vehicle were his.

Hoff previously was convicted of first-degree burglary in Carver County in March 2004; second-degree burglary in Kanabec County in 2001; and first- and second-degree burglary and theft of property over $2,500 in Morrison County in

Hoff has two previous convictions for first-degree burglary, six convictions for second-degree burglary and numerous other theft and possession of stolen property convictions dating back to 1999, according to a search of Minnesota and Wisconsin court records.

Hoff is set to make his next court appearance on Jan. 22.

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