June 12, 2019 11:09 PM
Police are warning residents in two dozen communities from the West metro to the East metro to be especially vigilant and protect their homes from thieves.
In recent weeks, nearly 50 homeowners ranging from Big Lake to Oakdale, have reported break-ins.
Bloomington police say at least two burglaries from homes and garages occurred on the same night - June 7. In one instance, the thieves even got inside a home while people were asleep inside.
"When I went outside [in the morning], the overhead garage door was open," said a homeowner who is only being identified by the name Larry. "The tailgate of the SUV was wide open. The doors of the vehicles were wide open. All the vehicles were ransacked."
His truck was stolen. And he later learned the thieves not only got into the garage, but into the house as well, taking a wallet and other personal items while the family slept.
"I don't care as much about the stuff that is missing as much as they were in my house," Larry said. "That's what makes me feel violated."
In Otsego, a security camera caught a group of five prowlers pulling up in front of the home belonging to Terina and Jason Frank. The young couple recently moved here to raise their children. This past Sunday in the middle of the night, when all four of them were asleep and the home was dark, the thieves were seen on a neighbor's surveillance system, sneaking up to an SUV parked in the Frank driveway. It was unlocked and inside the SUV they found what they were after.
It wasn't until the next morning, when the doorbell rang at dawn.
"My son said 'mom there is a cop here,' I opened the door and said, 'yes?' and he said, 'you guys have been broken into,'" Terina said. "The officer had my purse and a diaper bag."
Investigators confirmed they were in her home and several others in the subdivision. Since June 1, authorities in Wright County have heard from 20 other residents about their homes being hit in the same way. Police suspect there is a crew of two dozen burglars behind nearly 50 break-ins. Police and sheriff departments throughout the Twin Cities are on alert.
On June 6, detectives, with search warrants, went to three homes of interest in Minneapolis. Police raided a place located on Aldrich Avenue North.
"I know they had a long list they gave my mom of stolen stuff," said Anjanae Bryant.
The Bryant family insists nothing was found and maintain they aren't holding any "hot property" for anyone. However, Georgia Bryant said her grandkids have "associates" that tend to cause trouble from time to time and often stop by.
As for the break-ins in Otsego, police arrested two of the many accused of being connected to the widespread burglary crew. Terina got her belongings back which is nice, but said that's not enough.
"I was sick to my stomach, somebody invaded my privacy and now I question the safety in my home," she said.
Despite the recent rash of break-ins, the number of burglaries in Minnesota has actually dropped considerably in recent years.
Bloomington police are investigating the burglary, and at least one other in the same neighborhood that night where another car was left unlocked with a garage door opener inside.
"It's just easy pickings for people who realize that not everyone is going to lock their car doors," Bloomington Police Deputy Chief Mike Hartley said.
While police can't say for sure that they're connected, officers are working with several other metro agencies investigating similar crimes.
"Our investigators are reaching out to other police departments to try to maybe match up some of the evidence that they have obtained in their investigations," Hartley said.
Meanwhile, those who have been impacted are taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.
"We've already changed locks," Larry said. "We've changed the garage door openers. We've taken all the garage door openers out of the vehicles. We've ordered cameras, they will be installed alter this week.
"These are all things I never thought I would have to do."
Police are telling residents to lock their cars, not to leave garage door openers in vehicles, and not to leave cell phones, wallets or other personal items at a drop spot just inside a home.
Jessica Miles & Beth McDonough
Updated: June 12, 2019 11:09 PM
Created: June 12, 2019 04:57 PM
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