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'Stolen' building found, turn out to be misunderstanding with previous buyer

This is a screen capture from Google Street View of the storage building near the Baker (Minn.) elevator.

BAKER, Minn. - A metal building reported stolen here this week has been found in the possession of a Barnesville-area man who made a deal for the building five years ago, the Clay County Sheriff's Office says.

Detective Jason Hicks called it "simply a misunderstanding" and said authorities have no reason to suspect any criminal activity on the man's part.

"He thought it was legitimately his and didn't realize he was doing any-thing wrong," Hicks said.

Lance Akers reported the building stolen on Wednesday. He said he took possession of the building, which sat along the railroad tracks next to the grain elevator in Baker, about three weeks ago and prepped it to be moved to his landscaping business near his home on Lake Lizzie northeast of Pelican Rapids.

The building had been stripped down to its framework, with the metal roofing and siding piled next to it. But when Akers drove by the site early Wednesday, everything was gone, he said.

Akers said today he now expects to take possession of the building next week.

"It's just funny the way it all worked out," he said.

According to Akers and Hicks, the Barnesville-area man who took the building had made a deal with the lessee of the elevator about five years ago, trading him a car for the building.

Hicks said the building later went into tax default and was sold by the county at auction. Akers said the Otter Tail Valley Railroad owned it at the time he made a deal for the building in exchange for taking down some grain bins for the railroad.

Akers said he wasn't aware of the previous deal for the building, and he called the situation a "major misunderstanding."