If you're lucky enough to have a flat-screen television in your fish house, you might want to keep a closer eye on it.
The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is warning the public after a rash of break-ins to fish houses on Lake Minnetonka early Wednesday. Thieves broke into approximately 11 fish houses and got away with a flat-screen television, a stereo, electronics and fishing equipment. The thefts and property damage are estimated at about $7,000, the sheriff's office said.
"It's a crime of opportunity, like people who leave their garage door open," said sheriff's office spokeswoman Lisa Kiava. "It's kind of sad that in this day, you can't set up your fish house and leave it out there."
The fish houses varied in size and furnishings -- some had beds and one had a visible satellite dish, Kiava said. The thieves pried doors off of the fish houses or broke windows to gain access.
The area targeted was about 100 yards from shore in Lower Lake North, just south of Big Island, the sheriff's office said.
The only other fish house break-in in Hennepin County this season was on Medicine Lake earlier this week, Kiava said.
In Sherburne County, authorities are investigating thefts of hundreds of dollars worth of gear from five fish houses in the Clear Lake area in one day. Items worth thousands of dollars were also taken from four fish houses in Palmer Township in late December.
Fish house owners are warned to remove valuables, supplies and fishing equipment when they leave. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office also recommends that owners leave fish houses unlocked to prevent damage to the doors if someone tries to get in. Take the same precautions you would take if you were leaving a boat on a dock, authorities said.
"If you leave something in a fish house, it probably will be taken," Kiava said.
The number of fish houses on area lakes this year have increased, as well as the number of snowmobilers, Kiava said.
"There's just a lot more activity on the lakes in general," she said. "More people means more opportunity for crimes to be committed."
Anyone with information is asked to call 1-888-988-TIPS.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Lora Pabst • 612-673-4628