This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (1996).




In the Matter of the Welfare,

of: R.M., Child.

Filed December 17, 1996


Lansing, Judge

Nobles County District Court

File No. J69650047

John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Dwayne Bryan, Special Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue SE, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for Appellant)

Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General, 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 1400, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for Respondent)

Kenneth J. Kohler, Nobles County Attorney, Kathleen A. Kusz, Assistant County Attorney, Post Office Box 607, Worthington, MN 56187 (for Respondent)

Considered and decided by Huspeni, Presiding Judge, Toussaint, Chief Judge, and Lansing, Judge.



This appeal is from an adjudication of juvenile delinquency for third degree burglary, first degree criminal damage to property, possession of burglary tools, and other offenses. Because we conclude the stop and frisk, as well as the search of the vehicle, were lawful, we affirm.


A state trooper patrolling in the City of Round Lake saw a red car with its headlights off enter an alley behind the Thunderbird Inn at about 2:00 a.m. The trooper had heard a report of a police call about an hour earlier reporting a prowler in the city. The trooper lost sight of the red car but later saw a vehicle of the same color parked on a nearby street. After searching the area for moving traffic, he returned to investigate the parked car, and saw three men inside reclining and, in the trooper's opinion, feigning sleep.

The trooper returned to his squad car and called for backup assistance. While he waited the person in the driver's seat of the red car got out. The trooper stepped out of his squad car, drew his gun, and ordered the driver to put his hands in the air, then to reach in and remove the keys from the ignition. He also ordered the two passengers, one of whom was R.M., to raise their hands. The three men were pat searched, and two hard objects, one a screwdriver, were retrieved from R.M.'s pockets.

While police detained the three suspects, they checked area businesses for break-ins and discovered a burglary at the Thunderbird Inn. The men were arrested. At the adjudicatory hearing, the state presented evidence that the square shaft of the screwdriver found in R.M.'s pocket fit the marks on the aluminum molding of the window frame from the window that was broken at the Thunderbird Inn.



R.M. argues that the trial court erred in ruling that he was not seized when the trooper drew his weapon and issued various commands, first to the driver, and then to R.M. and the other passenger. But the district court did find that an investigative Terry stop had occurred.

The basis required for an investigative stop is minimal. The officer must be able to identify specific and articulable facts which, together with logical inferences, reasonably warrant the intrusion. State v. Engholm, 290 N.W.2d 780, 783 (Minn. 1980). All that is required is that the stop not be the product of mere whim, caprice, or idle curiosity. Marben v. State, Dep't of Pub. Safety, 294 N.W.2d 697, 699 (Minn. 1980). The officer's assessment may be based on all the circumstances, and the inferences may be drawn from the perspective of the officer's experience. Holm v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 416 N.W.2d 473, 474 (Minn. App. 1987).

A police officer may stop a car in the vicinity of a recently committed crime if the relevant circumstances sufficiently tie the vehicle to the offense. See Appelgate v. Commissioner of Pub. Safety, 402 N.W.2d 106, 108-09 (Minn. 1987). Although the trooper did not have any information that a burglary had occurred, he knew of the report on a prowler, and he had seen a suspicious vehicle himself. Based on the factors identified in Appelgate, the trooper had a reasonable suspicion that the parked car in which R.M.was found was the same car he had seen several blocks away with its headlights off. Id. Even if the trooper had not had reasonable suspicion of a burglary, he could have made an investigative stop based solely on the location of the car and the suspicious circumstances at 2:00 a.m. Finally, the trooper did not "stop" the vehicle merely by walking up to the already parked car. State v. Alesso, 328 N.W.2d 685, 687 (Minn. 1982). Once he had walked up to the car and saw it was occupied by three young men apparently feigning sleep on a bitterly cold morning, he had independent grounds for further investigation, as well as confirmation of his suspicions.

R.M. contends that the trooper lacked grounds to pat search him and his companions. Police do not automatically have a right to frisk whenever they have grounds for an investigative stop. State v. Payne, 406 N.W.2d 511, 513 (Minn. 1987). The officer must have an "objective articulable basis for thinking that the person may be armed and dangerous." Id.

The officer here had a reasonable suspicion that the occupants of the parked car may have just committed burglary, a serious felony offense, and not just the traffic offense of driving without headlights. The officer was alone, late at night, and faced with three suspects. The supreme court has upheld a pat search when an officer was alone on the highway with two people, one of whom had made a furtive movement, even though the suspected offense was only petty misdemeanor possession of marijuana. State v. Ludtke, 306 N.W.2d 111, 113 (Minn. 1981). When a stop is for certain serious crimes, including burglary, a frisk is generally permissible. 4 Wayne R. LaFave, Search and Seizure § 9.5(a), at 254-56 (3d ed. 1996). The trooper had a reasonable suspicion justifying the pat search of R.M.


R.M. argues that the items observed in the parked car were not in "plain view," and that the search of the car was not justified as a search incident to arrest. The black hat and gloves, three-foot-long bar, and flashlight visible from outside the vehicle were in "open view." Alesso, 328 N.W.2d at 687 n.1. We need not decide whether the officers had, at that moment, the legal right to enter the car to seize those items. See id. The items, along with the flashlight and screwdriver seized from R.M.'s person, were recognizable as common tools of burglary. The officers would inevitably have pursued the investigation of nearby businesses that in fact took place, and would have discovered the Thunderbird Inn burglary, giving them probable cause to arrest the three suspects and to search the car incident to the arrest. See State v. White 489 N.W.2d 792, 794 (Minn. 1992) (whenever police lawfully arrest occupant of automobile, they may, incident to arrest, search passenger compartment and any containers found within it); State v. Eppler, 362 N.W.2d 315, 317 (Minn. 1985) (application of inevitable discovery rule). The same rule applies to the discovery of the screwdriver in the glove compartment.