Two men in Wright County and a 16-year-old boy in Minneapolis have been arrested on suspicion of participating in an especially busy burglary spree that has hit many counties in and near the Twin Cities area, with one police department saying there have been break-ins while residents were sleeping.
The two men, one of them an 18-year-old from Coon Rapids, were nabbed about 6 a.m. Monday by deputies responding to a burglary in progress in Otsego, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The two fled toward the Crow River from a home on 54th Street NE. with a computer bag and other items, according to emergency dispatch audio.
In north Minneapolis about 5 hours earlier, officers arrested a 16-year-old who tried to elude capture in a minivan reported stolen out of Howard Lake in Wright County, police said.
“It is our working hypothesis at this time” that the boy is among the burglars causing havoc in Wright County and elsewhere, said Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder.
The 16-year-old was spotted shortly before 1 a.m. driving on Lowry Avenue with the headlights off in the minivan, Elder said. The teen sped off, and police gave pursuit amid little traffic until the suspect hit an electrical pole and then a fence near Emerson and 26th avenues N.
A police dog located the 16-year-old on the ground near a home on Girard Avenue, and he was arrested, Elder said.
In the week leading up to the arrests, the Sheriff’s Office said it has received 20 calls about stolen vehicles, thefts from vehicles and residential burglaries believed to have been carried out by the jailed suspects and others.
The suspects allegedly have been working in small groups and getting into homes by using the garage door opener left in unlocked vehicles.
The Sheriff’s Office said it has been working law enforcement agencies from seven other Minnesota counties in connection with these suspects and others carrying out similar crimes.
Police in nearby Big Lake said late last week that its residents have been targeted by what they are calling “a very sophisticated ring” of burglars who have also struck in Monticello, Buffalo and Plymouth. They use stolen vehicles to get around and commit more crimes, Big Lake police added.
“They also enter occupied residences very quickly, taking items while residents are generally asleep,” Big Lake police said in a statement. “Because the suspects commit their crimes in vehicles not yet reported stolen, they have been incredibly difficult to catch in the act.”
One Big Lake investigator tracked a stolen credit card and identified one suspect as being from Minneapolis.
A statement from the Wright County Sheriff’s Office advised “everyone to lock your vehicle and not leave valuables inside of your vehicle. If you must leave valuables inside of your vehicle, please put them out of sight and preferably inside of a locked trunk or glove box.”
Garage door openers should be kept in a locked vehicle compartment or out of sight from anyone outside the vehicle, the statement continued.