A man and a woman suspected of breaking into south Minneapolis churches this fall to steal cash, electronic equipment and checks are being questioned in connection with similar thefts in Edina and Eagan, police said.
Tamica Bazinet, 34, Thomas Berens, 36, and an unidentified minor were arrested by Eagan police for allegedly ransacking the community room of a senior home on Blackhawk Road early on Sept. 29, according to court filings.
Bazinet and Berens, who are believed to be related, later were charged with first-degree burglary in the case. It was unclear if the minor had been charged.
Police said that at the time of their arrests that Bazinet and Berens were in possession of items stolen in a string of burglaries that occurred over a 48-hour span earlier that month in Minneapolis.
They face a single count of first-degree burglary and three counts of second-degree burglary of a religious building in those break-ins.
Investigators believe the pair stole cash, computers and other electronic equipment from four churches on the city's South Side — Riverside Evangelical Free Church at 3401 Boardman St., Crosstown Covenant Church at 5540 30th Av. S., Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church at 5011 31st Av. S. and Hope Lutheran Church at 5200 Emerson Av. N.
They also allegedly targeted an assisted-living facility in the 5700 block of 33rd Av. S., breaking into an office late one night and taking a computer. Last month, they were charged with those crimes.
In at least two of the burglaries, the suspects also allegedly made off with both personal and business checks, which later ended up in the hands of a 43-year-old south Minneapolis man, who is suspected of forging and cashing the checks and pocketing the money.
Bazinet and Berens had managed to elude arrest until Eagan police tipped detectives in Minneapolis off to the suspects' identities after they were picked up in connection with the Sept. 29 break-in. Minneapolis police later were contacted by Edina police, who wanted to question the pair about a series of business burglaries.