A youth soccer team that had its new jerseys stolen now has them back.
Eagan police recovered more than 40 uniforms belonging to a St. Paul team during a traffic stop on Tuesday. And after photos of the shirts were posted on social media, team members came forward Thursday to pick them up.
"They were excited," said Eagan police spokesman Aaron Machtemes. "If people had not shared the story on social media, [the players] might not have gotten them back."
The black, yellow, red and navy soccer jerseys with the words "Karen Youth United" stamped on the back went missing after they were recently sent from Thailand in a package delivered to an address in St. Paul.
Police were responding to a possible restraining order violation in the 900 block of Yankee Doodle Road when they pulled over a vehicle. Officers had recognized the license plate from a felony theft at an outlet mall over the weekend.
That's when they found more than $1,000 worth of clothing in the vehicle, including the soccer jerseys, Machtemes said.
Police were able to determine that several of the clothing items had been taken from a mall and were able to return them to stores. But they initially were unable to determine the rightful owners of the soccer jerseys.
It's not clear if "Karen" refers to the Karen people, an ethnic group that lives primarily in the Thailand-Myanmar (formerly Burma) region. The Karen Organization of Minnesota says St. Paul is home to one of the largest Karen communities in America, with more than 17,000 people settling in the city since the early 2000s.
On Thursday, team members saw the Eagan Police Department's Facebook post and came to the station to retrieve the uniforms.
"They had a shipping receipt that showed they came from Thailand, so we know the uniforms are theirs," Machtemes said.
As for the thief, police arrested a 24-year-old man who was booked into the Dakota County jail on a misdemeanor charge of providing false information to a peace officer, felony theft and a warrant for simple robbery.