A survey of west-metro communities shows burglary is a common concern. Page AA5

Burglars hitting more often in the west suburbs

  • Star Tribune
  • July 31, 2012 - 11:42 AM

Police in several west-metro communities are seeing an increase in residential break-ins, prompting warnings and community meetings about how to avoid being a target.

Minnetonka police have reported 111 residential burglaries so far this year, compared to 75 at this time last year.

Sgt. Dave Riegert said criminals are skipping the larger electronics such as flat-screen TVs. They were lucrative targets a few years ago but have now dropped in price.

Intruders instead are going for smaller gold jewelry and Apple Inc. products such as iPads and iPods that are expensive but easy to snatch.

Interviews with suspects make it clear why west-metro cities like Minnetonka are prime territory for burglars, Riegert said.

"There's a lot of wealth and affluence out here, so we are a target," he said. "Not only do these burglars maintain their MO but they have areas they like to work in."

That was the case in a string of burglaries by Stewart Pesheck, who stole everything from jewelry to candlesticks from homes in Eden Prairie, Edina, Bloomington and Lakeville, plus cities along the south shore of Lake Minnetonka and in Carver County, before Eden Prairie police caught him in February. He was sentenced this month to more than 9 years in prison.

In June, Minnetonka Police arrested Jeffrey Boemer, a serial burglar who stole from homes in Minnetonka and neighboring cities. "He did definitely work the west metro," Riegert said.

Minnetonka police are stepping up patrols and recently met with neighborhood watch groups to discuss how residents can better protect themselves, such as by immediately reporting suspicious people and being more vigilant when it comes to watching over properties.

EDINA: About 100 residents at a community meeting Thursday about a rash of break-ins in the northwest corner of the city got the good news that police had identified the suspect and were optimistic they'll catch him soon. "We know who it is," Detective Dave Carlson told the crowd, adding that the suspect was partly traced through stolen credit cards he used.

Carlson did not identify the suspect but said police believe he's riding a bike from Hopkins, then taking items from unlocked houses and cars in the middle of the night. He was confronted once, and ran away. No one was hurt.

Police Chief Jeff Long said there had been 25 incidents in the last 6 1/2 weeks in the affected area. Fifteen involved homes, 12 of which were occupied, and 10 involved vehicles. Small items, such as cash, computers and cellphones generally were taken.

HOPKINS: Police are "pretty confident" that at least some of the 20 break-ins on the Edina-Hopkins border were committed by the same suspect in the Edina burglaries, said Sgt. Michael Glassberg. "We had our own neighborhood meeting" a couple weeks ago, he said. "We haven't had any break-ins since then," he said, adding that residents have taken some of the preventive measures to heart. "Many of these are preventable by securing your valuables and your house and your car." Many cities in the west metro are dealing with break-ins this summer, Glassberg said. "They're looking for quick hits, often laptops and purses left in kitchens."

GOLDEN VALLEY: In July, police issued a crime alert after seeing an increase in residential burglaries throughout the city, with burglars striking four homes in one week, stealing a bike, TV and jewelry.

EDEN PRAIRIE: Police are reminding residents to lock their doors after seeing a number of cases where thieves didn't even have to break in. While the number of residential burglaries has remain stable this year compared to last year, 38 percent of the 56 burglaries this year were in unlocked garages or homes, said Eden Prairie spokeswoman Katie Beal.

SOUTHWEST MINNEAPOLIS: Thirty-eight garages were burglarized in a single week last month in southwest Minneapolis, and thieves typically left with only one kind of loot: high-end bicycles. Thieves got into the garages by prying the doors, breaking windows or just opening unlocked doors. • 612-673-1707 • 612-673-4141

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