Suspects in car break-ins pick the wrong car -- an FBI agent's

  • Article by: JAMES WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 27, 2011 - 10:54 PM

Within six hours, they were in custody and investigators had video and physical evidence.

What happens when a couple of thieves on a months-long spree of vehicle break-ins decide to hit an FBI agent's SUV?

The spree ends.

Milton Carlton Rucker Jr. and Tania Marie Thompson of Minneapolis had been breaking into cars for the past five months, Thompson allegedly told police. They'd hit cars in Minneapolis. They had allegedly sped away from an attempted break-in in Bloomington.

Then they hit the Ford Explorer parked near 1999 Franklin Av. W. in Minneapolis. Less than six hours later both suspects were in custody and investigators from multiple departments were on their way to recover items taken from the agent's vehicle.

It was about 4:40 p.m. Friday when the agent discovered someone had broken into his SUV. Gone were his pistol, FBI credentials, badge and personal credit cards -- all kept in a duffel bag.

According to the FBI, the agent immediately reported the stolen credit cards to his bank. His bank called back, saying a credit card had been used at a Holiday gas station and at a Target store in Brooklyn Park. Investigators hit the streets.

Video surveillance appeared to show the same woman using the credit card in both places. Video from a Minneapolis Holiday store showed the woman getting into a car. A police report from the day before connected that car to a man and a woman suspected of breaking into another vehicle and stealing a purse, a cellphone, credit cards and other items on Calhoun Parkway W. in Minneapolis. Other police reports allegedly connected the couple to other break-ins.

Police contacted the car's owner, who said Rucker was using it.

Less than six hours after the break-in of the agent's car, investigators saw the suspects' car parked in a driveway of a Minneapolis apartment building. A woman answering the front door matched the woman in the Target video.

Police arrested Tania Thompson, 34, then called into the building. Milton Rucker, 38, came out of an apartment and was arrested, too.

They appeared in federal court Wednesday morning, charged with stealing government property, bank fraud and ID theft.

A search of the apartment netted the agent's watch as well as evidence from another vehicle break-in, police said. Thompson later allegedly told investigators that she and Rucker had hit five to eight other vehicles over the past five months.

She allegedly helped them find the agent's credentials in a Minneapolis garbage can. His gun was found Wednesday by Brooklyn Park police. His badge is still missing.

James Walsh • 612-673-7428

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