Willow River man charged after Esko post office break-in, other burglaries

Steven Russell Macdonald faces two counts of burglary as well as mail theft and tampering with a motor vehicle.

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CARLTON — A Willow River man faces a trio of felonies and a misdemeanor after allegedly breaking into a post office and church and rifling through cars parked at a mechanic’s shop.

Steven Russell Macdonald, 37, is charged with two counts of felony second-degree burglary as well as felony mail theft and misdemeanor tampering with a motor vehicle, according to a criminal complaint.

Steven Russell Macdonald.
Contributed / Carlton County Jail

Carlton County sheriff's deputies allege that Macdonald broke into the Bethany Lutheran Church in Cromwell on Jan. 8, then rummaged through several cars at Cromwell Automotive later that day. They also contend that he broke into the Esko post office Jan. 10, taking several parcels and letters.

At the church, deputies claimed, office cabinets and drawers had been opened, and a credit card was missing. They found footprints around the building that were “notable for leaving no visible tread.”

The mechanic’s shop owner told deputies that a surveillance camera recorded a white U-Haul pickup truck had pulled into the business at about 5 a.m. More than one vehicle was entered, and a number of them were missing paperwork, ammunition and clothes. There, too, deputies noticed footprints that apparently left no visible tread marks.


At the post office, deputies found a tire iron that apparently had been used to pry open a “locked area.” Camera footage from a nearby school noted a white U-Haul pickup truck pull into the post office and leave shortly afterward with boxes visible in the bed.

Macdonald was arrested in Anoka County, Minnesota, on Thursday, Jan. 12, and is booked at the Carlton County Jail.

When he was arrested, Macdonald was reportedly driving a white U-Haul pickup truck and had “numerous items of mail” inside with mailing or return addresses in Esko, the criminal complaint said.

“Any identified victims of mail theft related to this matter will be contacted by the United States Postal Service with further instructions,” Dan Danielson, Carlton County’s chief deputy, said in a news release Friday, Jan. 13.

This story was updated at 10:20 a.m. Jan. 18 with Steven Russell Macdonald's name after he was charged. It was originally posted at 8:47 p.m. Jan. 13.

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Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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