A career break-in artist suspected in more than 100 attempted and successful burglaries faces new theft charges after prosecutors alleged he was up to his old ways.
Brian S. Williams, 47, of Rochester, who last year legally changed his name to Immanuel Israel, was charged with third-degree burglary in connection with an attempted break-in at a manufacturing representative business in Eden Prairie last week, according to charges filed in Hennepin County District Court.
Williams was released from jail on Wednesday after posting $40,000 bond. He made his initial court appearance in the most recent case on Thursday afternoon and was assigned a public defender.
Williams’ most recent burglary attempt occurred last Saturday, the complaint said, when he tried breaking into the Blackburn Co. at 6277 Bury Drive, which was closed. But the attempt was thwarted by the business’ owner, who got up to investigate when he heard the locked front door open. The owner recalled the suspected burglar saying, “I thought you guys were open, I will come back,” as he left the store and sped off in a silver Cadillac sedan.
Fresh pry marks were reportedly found on the front door.
Police later broadcast a metrowide alert with the vehicle’s description, leading to Williams’ arrest two days later while he was driving through south Minneapolis.
A search of the vehicle turned up several pairs of gloves and a screwdriver with a bent shaft, the filings said.
Just how many burglaries Williams is accused of is not clear.
A court filing this week put the number at more than 100 between the Twin Cities and Olmsted County before he was sent to prison in 2011. But prosecutors say he is considered a suspect in more than 30 burglaries in 10 cities and four counties between Nov. 2 and Jan. 5.
Williams, authorities say, used the same method each time: He tended to target small businesses and was known to strike during the daytime or early evening hours, breaking in by prying open doors and cash boxes with a flat-head screwdriver. He usually made off with petty cash, the filings say.
Court records show that he has at least 15 convictions for burglary-related offenses and has been found innocent in at least a dozen more cases.
In 2015, Williams was barely 2½ months removed from his release from the prison in St. Cloud when he allegedly burglarized three Eden Prairie businesses on Super Bowl Sunday. He was arrested a short time later after leading police on a high-speed chase.
At the time, authorities said he had been arrested by a host of law enforcement agencies, among them Minneapolis, Eden Prairie, Edina, Minnetonka, Brooklyn Park, Bloomington, New Hope and Burnsville.
Williams once worked as a police informant, helping authorities in 2008 prosecute a former county victim and witness advocate accused of selling confidential information about witnesses in a gang slaying case. In an effort to discredit him, an attorney in that case said that Williams had a lengthy criminal history and had been an informant for two decades.