Man charged in string of early-morning east metro burglaries

Criminal charges have been filed against a man after several homes were burglarized Friday morning in Woodbury and Cottage Grove.

Jaleel Francis Wah, 24, is charged with four counts of aiding and abetting first-degree burglary and one count of aiding and abetting attempted first-degree burglary.

According to a criminal complaint, Cottage Grove police were checking an area where a burglary had been reported Friday morning when a homeowner’s son approached the officer with surveillance video showing a man entering their home at around 4:45 that morning. The victims noted a dresser drawer in the home was left opened and doors to the vehicles in the garage were also opened.

Then, another homeowner told the officer that she’d been outside with her dog just before 4 a.m. and heard a vehicle drive outside. She then looked at her doorbell video footage and saw a male running down the street.

A third homeowner told the officer that his daughter’s Apple watch was missing and the sliding glass door to his deck was open, with several items scattered on the deck.

More homeowners reported finding the sliding door to a deck open and other items, including cash and a laptop missing, and doors to vehicles in the garage left open.

Through surveillance footage from the homeowners and neighbors, officers noted two males were around the homes and one was wearing a black sweatshirt with “Pink!” on it, the complaint states.

Officers in Woodbury responded to several burglary and attempted burglary reports from before 6 the same morning. The complaint states one homeowner’s garage had been forcibly opened and a $3,000 purse was taken from a vehicle inside. A window to the home was also broken after a cement block from the nearby retaining wall was thrown through it. Several other items, including iPads, laptops, Apple AirPods and car keys were also taken.

Another homeowner in Woodbury said someone had gone through the car in their garage and took items from two purses, including cash, gift cards and a driver’s license, and a $763 charge was made on a credit card just after 6 a.m.

Officers were told by another homeowner that he stopped a male who was trying to enter his home through the front and back doors.

Surveillance video again showed a male wearing a black sweatshirt with “Pink!” on it, according to the complaint.

Officers were able to track the AirPods stolen from one of the Woodbury homes, showing they were on 10th Street South in Minneapolis. Detectives went there and found a vehicle matching the suspect vehicle shown in surveillance video and, upon looking inside, saw many items that had been stolen during the burglaries.

Police were able to see the vehicle had arrived there just before 6 a.m. thanks to surveillance video from a nearby Target, the complaint states, and company personnel later told police that a male and female had approached the vehicle and the male was wearing a black sweatshirt with “Pink!” on it.

Officers then arrested the two and identified Wah as the male.

When talking to police, Wah admitted entering some of the houses, and officers also found the stolen Apple watch, the complaint states.

Police noted that Wah has five prior first-degree burglary convictions.

Woodbury police posted about the break-ins on social media, saying many involved unlocked doors. Law enforcement urged residents to always:

  • Lock all doors and windows,
  • Invest in outdoor lighting,
  • Make friends with neighbors and look out for each other,
  • Avoid announcing specific vacation plans online and on social media,
  • Notify trusted neighbors if you’re leaving so they can keep watch,
  • Use smart features to keep tabs on your items while away,
  • Immediately report any suspicious activity.

Police said they’re still searching for the second suspect shown in the surveillance videos.

Wah’s first court appearance is set for Tuesday morning.