Three people have been indicted on federal conspiracy charges for their alleged roles in a gun shop burglary last year that has been described as one of the largest in recent Minnesota history.
The break-in at the Millville, Minn., gun shop resulted in the theft of 75 firearms. Five of the weapons were quickly recovered after a pair of armed robberies in Winona that occurred within hours of the burglary. Most of the remainder still are missing.
The burglary accounted for roughly three-quarters of all firearms stolen last year from licensed dealers in Minnesota.
According to the charges, Trinity James Wicka and two unnamed juveniles made off with mostly handguns when they broke into the Millville Rod & Gun Shop on Sept. 2.
Co-defendant Alex Boyd allegedly had possession of guns used in the subsequent robberies.
The theft was one of the largest Minnesota gun shop burglaries in the past few years, according to James Modzelewski, special agent in charge of the St. Paul division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Wicka, Boyd and Sasha Marie Erdner each are charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute stolen firearms and one count each of possessing stolen firearms.
Boyd, who had a previous drug conviction in Cook County, Ill., was indicted on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to the indictment, Wicka, 19, met with two juveniles to plot the burglary the night before and planned to sell “or otherwise distribute” any guns from the shop.
Days later, Wicka took two bags of handguns to store them in Erdner’s mobile home. Erdner, 30, first was charged in November.
An informant also told investigators that Wicka disclosed his role in the theft and said he possessed “a lot of guns” stolen from the shop, according to a sworn affidavit by David Carriker, an ATF special agent.
Carriker said Erdner told agents that Wicka left two bags of 20 to 30 handguns in the bathtub of her RV and that someone later broke in and took the two bags.
Erdner showed agents a text message sent by Wicka telling her that she would get her bags back. Erdner admitted to handling some of the stolen guns and offering to help Wicka sell them, Carriker said.
Erdner’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Wicka and Boyd, 38, did not have attorneys listed on the court docket.
Carriker said burglars also made off with “a large amount of ammunition” from the Millville store. Another 15 of the guns later were retrieved by a juvenile on Sept. 16, but Carriker said about 50 of the firearms have not been recovered.
The ATF and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association, have offered rewards of up to $10,000 for information leading to the recovery of the stolen firearms or the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the Millville burglary and a Dec. 8 burglary at the Guns and Gear Store in Rogers, Minn.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and ATF are investigating the Rogers theft in which a store surveillance camera captured a man stuffing a duffel bag with $14,000 worth of rifle silencers and .45 caliber semi-automatic pistols.
“It’s safe to say that criminals who burglarize gun shops move stolen firearms quickly,” said Ashlee Sherrill, a spokeswoman for ATF’s St. Paul office.
“The typical thief and recipient of stolen firearms, more often than not, are people who cannot otherwise get them on their own, likely because they are prohibited.”
Sherrill said nearly 100 firearms were stolen from licensed firearms dealers in 2016 — down from 120 in 2015.
She said the ATF is planning a spring educational seminar on storefront security for licensed sellers in Minnesota and recently released a mobile app called “reportit” to encourage anonymous reporting on gun crimes and other violent criminal behavior.