Armed robbers target fair's beer exhibit, tie up victims

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2014 - 9:08 PM

Two workers were tied up but uninjured at the Agriculture Horticulture Building late last week.

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Artworks hangs at the Craft Brewers Guild Land of 10,000 Brews display at the Minnesota State Fair.

Photo: Brian Mark Peterson, Star Tribune

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Armed robbers struck the State Fair craft beer exhibit after hours late last week, tying up two victims and fleeing with at least $10,000 and possibly several times that amount.

The robbery at the Agriculture Horticulture Building’s craft beer exhibit was reported at 11:15 p.m. Friday to State Fair police dispatch, said police spokeswoman Brooke Blakey. No arrests have been made.

Both victims at the exhibit were bound by the robbers, she said. She added that several suspects were being pursued, but police had yet to release any descriptions.

The perpetrators struck after the exhibit’s closing time of 9 p.m., Blakey said.

“[Police] don’t have a concrete figure, but [it was] $10,000-plus,” she said.

A St. Paul family said it was stopped by officers who briefly suspected a man and his teenage son in that household of the crime. A St. Paul officer returned Tuesday night to apologize, the man’s wife said, and revealed that police were looking for roughly $60,000.

Asked Wednesday afternoon about the robbery netting as much as $60,000, Blakey said she had yet to receive “a firm number. But yes, a large amount was taken.”

This was the third year at the fair for the beer exhibit, which was put on by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild. Along with selling beer at the fair, the exhibit also detailed the brewing process from farm to mug.

“We are thankful that our exhibit staff weren’t harmed,” said Clint Roberts, the guild’s executive director, adding that the crime wouldn’t “mar what was a fun, successful and productive 12 days for our organization.”

The State Fair police patrol the grounds year-round, and the department grows during fair time as other officers from around the state come aboard.

Blakey said there have been robberies over the years at the fair, but this was the first involving a weapon. She did not disclose what type of weapon was used.

Anyone with information about the robbery is urged to call State Fair police at 651-288-4502.

Violent crimes do occur from time to time at the fair, which on any given day hosts enough visitors to make it one of the state’s largest cities.

Last year, an off-duty police officer was kicked in the face. In 2012, two men survived being stabbed after an altercation. In 2009, a woman reported to fair police that she had been raped after attending a rock concert at the grandstand.

Along with the armed robbery, a preliminary tally of various crimes reported at the fair this year includes two assaults, eight patrons requiring substance detoxification, four calls for disorderly conduct and seven thefts.

For 2013, there were four assaults, 12 calls for detox, five instances of disorderly conduct, 13 thefts and no armed robberies.

From year to year, “the numbers are pretty steady,” Blakey said. “Overall, the fairgrounds is a safe environment.”

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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