Edina may have capped its biggest string of burglaries in recent memory with the arrest late last month of 28-year-old Pierre Ramone Larsen.
Larsen was a “one-man crime spree” who mostly targeted homes and vehicles with doors left unlocked by their owners, Edina police Sgt. Nate Mendel said.
“The biggest thing that we ran into ... were people not locking,” he said. “Simple preventive things like locking your car doors or shutting your garage doors.”
Such lax security often is a result, Mendel said, of the complacency that comes from living in a suburb where crime rates are typically lower than those in urban areas.
About 862 burglaries per 100,000 residents were reported in Minneapolis in 2015, more than three times the number reported in Edina that same year, according to crime statistics.
“I think it’s a culture of safety,” Mendel said. “I think that’s what a lot of residents feel: ‘Hey, I live in a safe community. These [burglaries] don’t happen here.’ ”
“But actually they do,” he continued. “People target Edina for particular reasons,” citing its reputation for being one of the wealthiest cities in the metro area.
It’s not just happening in Edina. Golden Valley recently issued an alert warning residents of an increase in reported thefts from unlocked homes and cars.
The incidents don’t frighten Cindy Anderson, a teacher who has lived in Golden Valley for more than 20 years. She usually leaves her house and car unlocked and garage door open.
“It’s so much easier,” she said, laughing. “You always look for the keys in your purse, you can’t find them. Forget it — the door stays open.”
Pete Schouweiler, who lives in Wayzata, said that for him the question of whether or not to lock up is a constant source of division with his wife. “But she’s right,” he conceded. “It’s better to be cautious.”
Claudia Day lives in a condo in Edina, where a couple of break-ins led management to install more security cameras and reprogram garage-door openers.
“Edina is probably one of the safer areas, so I think people kind of fall into that trap” of perceived security, she said.
Investigators believe that Larsen, of Minneapolis, was involved in more than 30 crimes in Edina since February, most of them home and vehicle burglaries.
As of Thursday, he was charged with several counts of burglary, motor vehicle theft and credit card fraud. Additional charges are expected.
One of Larsen’s alleged victims had left a credit card inside an unlocked vehicle. In another incident, Larsen allegedly entered a home by cutting a screen and climbing through an open window.
Police call these incidents “crimes of opportunity,” which Mendel said means “basically leaving an open door for somebody who is looking to steal something.”
Day learned that the hard way back in the 1980s, when a group of kids broke into her house in Washington state. She has kept her doors locked ever since.
“Once you have something like that happen to you, I think you do pay attention and try to keep yourself safe,” she said.
She has another form of home security nowadays: her dog, a small poodle-terrier mix named Poppy.
“She’s not a watchdog,” Day said. “But she barks.”