Thieves smashed out the windows of at least 50 cars in the secure parking garage of a south Minneapolis condo building overnight; however, police say only one police report had been filed by 3 p.m.
The crime spree left a big mess for residents of the Minnehaha Place condos, located on the 4800 block of 53rd Street, but investigators say only a few of the dozens of car owners affected have filed an official police report.
Every victim is urged to contact police because each report helps investigators quantify the crime and increase sentencing when a suspect is convicted.
Virgil Baker said he and his wife woke up to find both of their cars vandalized and a GPS unit stolen. He estimates 95 percent of the cars in the underground garage were broken into between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday.
"It was pretty startling for a lot of us coming down and getting our day started," Baker said. "One of the reasons I park down here is the security, making sure I have peace of mind that my vehicle is being protected."
Minneapolis police investigators believe the suspect broke into the condo entry first before entering the garage, and the condo board is checking to see if the building's insurance will cover any of the losses.
4 GARAGES TARGETED SINCE NOV. 11
Minneapolis police investigators in the department's 3rd Precinct issued a crime alert on Thursday, explaining the overnight break-ins are one of four in the past 10 days.
Dozens of vehicles parked overnight have been hit by thieves who either pry the door frames or smash windows to steal items. The dates and locations of the mass break-ins are:
- 18 vehicles were robbed on at Station 38, located at 3725 29th Ave S., between 9:45 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 11-12
- 41 vehicles were broken into at Oaks Station Place, located at 3550 46th St. E, between midnight and 5 a.m. on Nov. 12
- 27 vehicles were broken into at Hiawatha Commons, located at 2740 Minnehaha Ave. S, between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. on Nov. 13-14
- An exact total has not yet been determined in the Minnehaha Place Condominiums case, but more than 50 cars were reported to have been tampered with and rummaged through.
In at least one instance, garage entry appeared to have been gained by prying open a service door; however, police believe the suspects may also be slipping inside before the overhead door is fully closed. Investigators say the suspect may have been able to bypass a door lock in at least one case.
So far, officers have linked at least two of the break-ins together, but they believe all four are connected and are checking Craigslist, pawn shops, second hand stores to search for a large sale of GPS devices.
Police say the Property Crimes Investigation Unit is launching an "intense investigation" into the thefts, and they are urging residents to refrain from leaving valuables in any vehicle. So far, many victims have lost the following items, along with several others:
- Cell phones
- GPS systems
- Credit/debit cards
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Minneapolis police gave the following recommendations to residents to help them avoid becoming the target of thieves:
1. Keep an eye out for any unknown person or persons loitering on the property.
2. Call 911 to report anything suspicious and provide a detailed description of the suspect(s) and their clothing.
3. Be alert when entering and exiting the garage building.
4. Remove all valuables from vehicles.
5. Call 311 to work with a Crime Prevention Specialist to organize a building safety and security strategy.
6. Immediately report any theft by calling 911, and inform responding officers of anything the suspect may have left behind, such as a cigarette butt, a soda can, etc.