The list of stolen goods was impressive in its breadth and diversity: Over the years, city investigators say, he had stolen jewelry, designer luggage, baseball cards and a replica Stradivarius viola worth thousands of dollars.
The suspect, a 34-year-old Minneapolis man whose thefts numbered in the hundreds of items and spanned at least four years, has not yet been charged in the case, police said. His arrest Sunday came on the heels of the discovery by police of a cache of stolen items at the suspect’s North Side home, detectives said.
Sgt. Richard Jackson said officers found the loot — which he suspects was taken from cars in the parking lot of the downtown Hyatt Regency hotel — stashed inside a garage of the suspect’s home on the 2400 block of Aldrich Avenue North.
Over the years, Jackson said, the suspect ran a veritable “personal pawnshop” from his home, stealing clothing, car stereos and speakers, a BB gun and ammunition. Such small electronics as laptops and cellphones were also frequent targets. The most expensive item on the list, according to Jackson, was a battered brown Stradivarius viola valued at between $3,000 and $30,000.
On Aug. 1, police said, the suspect, who had previously been issued a trespass notice, was captured on the parking ramp’s security cameras casing cars that were unlocked or with valuables in plain sight. Then, police say, he returned later for the goods.
Once, a security guard saw a man matching the suspect’s description with a “funny-looking” tool lurking around the ramp but failed to report the incident, police said.
Jackson, the lead investigator on the case, said the man fenced some of the stolen gear at local pawnshops — using fake names or having someone else unload the loot to avoid detection — and stored the rest in his garage.
“If you don’t know somebody who needs it right then, you put it on your shelf and go out and steal something else,” Jackson said at a news conference Monday.
The suspect has also been connected to thefts from cars parked at the nearby Radisson and Millennium hotels and the IDS Center — dating back to 2006.
A search warrant application of the suspect’s North Side property and two vehicles, filed in late August in Hennepin County District Court, listed about 278 stolen items recovered. But Jackson said that after closer inspection that number doubled.
Police logged 352 property crimes in the precinct that includes downtown through Sept. 7, down from 597 such crimes over the same period last year.
News of the arrest came the day after police and downtown business leaders announced an anti-crime initiative “to tackle the challenge of late-night entertainment in downtown,” the Minneapolis Downtown Council said in a news release, following a weekend shooting that left six injured.
Police said they also questioned another man, whose car was used in one of the thefts, but wouldn’t comment on whether more arrests were imminent. Criminal charges against the suspect are expected to be announced Tuesday morning. The Star Tribune typically does not name suspects until they have been charged.
In the meantime, Jackson said, officers have worked to reunite the stolen items with their owners.
On Monday afternoon, one such man wandered into the department’s cavernous evidence storage facility in south Minneapolis in search of his stolen laptop, briefcase and jump drive.
After several minutes of picking through the heaps of recovered items, his eyes lit up. The man, who declined to give his name or to be photographed because of the situation, held up a jump drive, which he said contained “corporate documents” that had been taken from him last October.
In his haste to get to a breakfast meeting, the man said, he had forgotten to lock his car.