A brazen teenager donned a construction vest, broke into a transportation center being built in downtown Duluth, then went on a crime spree that resulted in an estimated $40,000 to $60,000 in damage.
The 18-year-old man gained access to the $30 million Duluth Transportation Center on Michigan Street some time after 6 p.m. Saturday. Once inside, he smashed computer equipment, electrical outlets and plumbing fixtures. Part of an elevator and some drywall were also damaged, said Dennis Jensen, general manager of the Duluth Transit Authority. "He took a mallet to the server rack and gave it some pretty good whacks," Jensen said. But the suspect, who police said is from Duluth, missed the servers that controlled the center's security cameras, which recorded his activity and helped police make an arrest.
The suspect, who has yet to be charged, is believed to be responsible for vandalizing 15 vehicles in an adjacent parking structure, said officer Russ Bradley of the Duluth Police Department.
The suspect, dressed like a construction worker, may have gone undetected for a few hours until police were alerted to trouble on a call reporting a leaking water main. When police arrived, they found the vandalized vehicles, and damage that went far beyond leaking pipes. They took a suspect into custody around 11 p.m.
"I don't understand the malicious actions by someone intent on doing such damage," Jensen said.
Despite the setback, Jensen said the transit center will open on Feb. 4 as scheduled.
The transit center will have 400 parking spots and serve as a hub for local and regional buses and intercity bus lines such as Jefferson Lines, and could serve as the station for the Northern Lights Express, a high-speed train proposed to run between the Twin Ports and the Twin Cities.