Sheriff: Cooperation key to capturing Sioux Falls man accused of thrice burglarizing an Emery bar, others
Mason Ridgeway, accused of burglarizing the same bar on three separate occasions, was wanted in connection to eight separate criminal cases across four counties.
ALEXANDRIA, S.D. — A Sioux Falls man wanted in connection with a string of bar burglaries is back in the custody of the Hanson County Sheriff’s Office, something the county’s top cop said is a result of incredible cooperation between multiple county and state law enforcement agencies.
Mason Ridgeway, 22, of Sioux Falls, had been sought after by authorities since he failed to return to custody from a treatment furlough in Sioux Falls in January. Hanson County Sheriff Brandon Wingert said Ridgeway had recently been arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service at a Sioux Falls casino.
According to court documents filed in Beadle, Hanson, Minnehaha and Turner counties, Ridgeway was wanted in connection with eight separate pending criminal cases consisting of 16 felonies and five misdemeanors.
The list of pending cases began on Sept. 27, 2021, when authorities with the Turner County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a bar in Davis for a report of a burglary. While investigating the incident, an affidavit says police became aware of multiple bar burglaries over the course of past months in Hurley, Irene and Marion. Using evidence collected from the scenes and tips from the public, authorities set their eyes on Ridgeway.
After receiving a tip that Ridgeway was lodged at a Sioux Falls motel, Turner County deputies worked with the Sioux Falls Police Department and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation to arrest Ridgeway and obtain a warrant for his motel room. Inside, authorities found clothing that they say “confirmed” Ridgeway was responsible for burglaries at bars in Hurley and Marion. They also discovered blood on other items that was consistent with blood discovered at the bar in Davis. Court documents allege Ridgeway damaged windows, video lottery machines, glass cases and doors in Davis while making out from the bar with approximately $4,000 in cash.
At the time of Ridgeway’s arrest, authorities in Hanson County were seeking information regarding two separate burglaries at Sandy’s Bar in Emery, in which items within the building were damaged and nearly $500 had been stolen. Wingert said his agency began combing through Turner County’s investigation to look for similarities.
“When we found out from Turner County that Ridgeway was their suspect, we started comparing,” Wingert told the Mitchell Republic. “That’s when we figured out Mason was our suspect.”
Hanson County requested assistance from the DCI, who collected evidence and processed the scene. An investigation led authorities to conclude that Ridgeway was also responsible for burglarizing the Emery bar twice on Sept. 11 and Sept. 20.
In December, Ridgeway was temporarily released from jail on furlough to receive treatment in Sioux Falls. Roughly over one month into the program, the facility decided to terminate their work with Ridgeway. He was released and told to turn himself into jail.
“Normally, when somebody is in custody and on a furlough, if they’re terminated from the program, the facility contacts law enforcement and lets them know,” Wingert said. “However, that did not happen.”
With authorities again searching for Ridgeway, he allegedly returned to Sandy’s Bar on Feb. 1 and burglarized it a third time, getting away with a safe that contained nearly $8,000 in cash.
The next day, on Feb. 2, Wingert said officers with the Huron Police Department located Ridgeway during a routine traffic stop. Ridgeway allegedly drove off at a “high rate of speed,” and the pursuit was terminated in accordance with the department’s policy. Huron police forwarded vehicle information on to Wingert, who verified the vehicle Ridgeway was driving was the same vehicle used to burglarize Sandy’s Bar the third time.
Ten days after authorities set eyes on him in Beadle County, a loss prevention officer at a Sioux Falls Walmart alleges Ridgeway attempted to steal over $900 in merchandise, but was scared off when confronted. Using a comparison between surveillance footage and a known photo of Ridgeway, authorities believed they had enough evidence to file one count of petty theft against him.
“We filed for the escape warrant, and then we began to strongly look for him. In that process, we contacted the Fugitive Task Force out of Sioux Falls, and the DCI assisted,” Wingert said. “That looped in the State Penitentiary, who assisted in the investigation, as well. Through a joint effort by all involved we were able to track him down and take him into custody.”
Wingert said the entire process involved joint efforts from the authorities in Beadle, Davison, Hanson, McCook, Minnehaha and Turner Counties, as well as contributions from the DCI and U.S. Marshals Service.
“If it wasn't for that cooperation, I don’t know if we would have solved these cases,” Wingert said. “Thankfully, we all worked together. That’s the key to solving these things — getting in touch and looking at trends, sharing information and running investigations forward.”
Across all cases in all counties, Ridgeway is currently facing six counts of third-degree burglary, seven counts of varying degrees of intentional damage to property, three counts of criminal trespassing, two counts of second-degree escape, and one count of grand theft over $5,000, petty theft over $400 and eluding law enforcement.
If he were to be convicted on all charges, Ridgeway could be sentenced to serve up to 112 years in prison, plus ordered to pay nearly $225,000 in fines.
Ridgeway’s criminal history could come into play during sentencing, Wingert said.
With prior convictions including third-degree burglary, identity theft, possession of a controlled substance, ingestion of a controlled substance and driving under the influence, prosecutors have the option to push for Ridgeway to be punished through sentences that are above the average (though still below the maximum).
"It’s frustrating for everybody involved, from the attorneys to the judge to especially law enforcement," Wingert said.
Despite the frustration, Wingert applauded the many members of the public that pitched in to do their part.
"The cooperation among the bar owners working with us and the people in the community that had cameras that were able to supply us with footage was amazing," Wingert said. "In South Dakota the people are great to work with. That’s Small Town, USA, and I love it."
Ridgeway is due to appear in a Hanson County courtroom on Wednesday. Pending hearings between each of his cases, Ridgeway is being held in the Davison County Jail.