Minneapolis man who stole about $10,000 in home invasion makes plea in court

A Minneapolis man who was charged with two felonies after he allegedly broke into a home, threatened and zip-tied a teen and stole about $10,000 in cash made two pleas in court Monday.

Court records show Robert Earl Buckingham, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree burglary (possession of a dangerous weapon/explosive) and pleaded not guilty to one count of aggravated robbery in the first degree. 

Buckingham will be sentenced on March 16.

Police say it is believed Buckingham targeted at least 23 families and that a majority of the victims were Hispanic.

According to a criminal complaint, Minneapolis police were called to a reported burglary at a duplex on the 2700 block of 12th Avenue S. at about 6:52 p.m. on Aug. 11, 2019. A man told police that he and his wife left their upper-level unit at about 6 p.m. with their three children remaining home. The complaint states that the children were 2 and 14 years old, and the third was an older child with Down syndrome. When the man and his wife returned home, they found the 14-year-old zip-tied in the bathroom, and the other two didn't appear to have been harmed but weren't able to communicate what happened.

Police: Man charged in Minneapolis home invasion targeted a number of Hispanic and Latino families

The complaint states the 14-year-old said a man, later identified as Buckingham, came into the bathroom, forced the teen out of the shower and threatened to kill the teen at knifepoint, and then zip-tied the teen's hands together. The teen said Buckingham then ransacked the home, and the man and his wife estimated about $10,000 in cash was missing.

A woman who lives in the unit below the victims told police she found a window screen on the south side of her unit had been cut open and there was a wooden box under the window that wasn't there. The complaint states police believe Buckingham came through the lower level window and used a hallway entrance to go to the upper unit.

Surveillance video from the area showed Buckingham standing on the steps of the victim's home at about 5:31 p.m. the complaint states, and then shows him walking to the south side of the home. At about 6:16 p.m., he is again seen walking out of the home and walking down the street, and then driving in the area away from the victims' home.

According to the complaint, officers executed a search warrant at Buckingham's home and found clothes matching the ones he was seen wearing on the surveillance footage. Officers also found more than $10,000 in cash.

The complaint states Buckingham has at least five prior felony burglary convictions and at least two prior convictions for violent crimes.