Crow Wing County has seen a rash of vehicle theft/break-ins in the past four to six weeks, law enforcement officials report.
The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Baxter, Crosslake, Crosby and Nisswa police departments have responded to numerous incidents where suspects have smashed the windows of vehicles and taken purses and other personal, valuable belongings.
“Law enforcement believes that the individuals involved in many of these incidents are probably the same group traveling around the Crow Wing County area,” Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted said.
“We strongly recommend that people either remove all valuables from their vehicles or conceal them if they need to leave something in their vehicle. The suspects are targeting vehicles in which they can see items of value.”
Crow Wing County Sheriff Todd Dahl agrees with Exsted, and said residents should not leave valuables in their vehicles. However, if valuables have to stay in the vehicle, Dahl recommends that people keep them in a locked compartment and have “an understanding that nothing is ever 100 percent safe. Taking a few minutes to make sure the valuables are locked or out of sight could save hardship in the long run. We also encourage the public to continue to report anything suspicious to law enforcement.”
The county has had a few incidents in the last few months with vehicle thefts where the windows are smashed. A recent incident was from a vehicle parked at Living Word North, just north of Baxter. Nisswa and Crosslake incidents were also at churches.
Crosby Police Chief Kim Coughlin said Crosby had its share of vehicle break-ins this past spring. Coughlin said Crosby police arrested two suspects in May. Richard D. Allen, 46, Crosslake, and Blake H. Spann, 33, St. Cloud, were charged in Crow Wing County District Court with felony financial transaction card fraud; and two misdemeanor charges, fourth-degree property damage and theft from a movable property with no consent.
Allen failed to appear for his omnibus hearing Monday and there is a warrant for his arrest. Spann was last seen in court on Sept. 5 and his next court appearance is Oct. 22.
According to the criminal complaints against the two men, two of the victims had their purses stolen while parked at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby. The men used their credit cards at several stores in Baxter, Brainerd, Little Falls and Royalton. The total of all the charges was $1,827.49.
Coughlin said since the two suspects were charged, police have not had many break-ins into vehicles.
Brainerd Police Chief Deputy Mike Bestul said Brainerd has not had any incidents where subjects have smashed the windows of vehicles and taken personal items. Bestul said they had a few about a year ago. The vehicle thefts Brainerd police have seen in recent months have been from unlocked vehicles.