Crime ring suspected in local residential burglaries
The Rochester Police Department is asking for the public's vigilance as it continues to investigate a series of daytime residential burglaries within the city.
There have been six burglaries locally that authorities believe are linked to a larger criminal ring operating out of the Twin Cities and in other states.
Several members of the ring were arrested in late December in Texas, said Capt. John Sherwin. Items found in their possession — specifically, GPS devices programmed to addresses in Rochester — connected the suspects to the local crimes.
Though arrests have been made, law enforcement believes the group is still active in Minnesota, since four additional daytime burglaries were reported to Rochester police after the arrests.
The burglaries have followed the same pattern and method of operation, Sherwin said. In each of the cases, the targeted victims are small business owners or medical/technology professionals of east Indian and Asian heritage.
Forced entry was made by breaking the side window panes of a door; upon entering, the suspects have ignored electronics and other valuable, Sherwin said, instead focusing on bedroom or basement safes or jewelry boxes. In each instance, the victims sustained "significant losses of cash and jewelry," he said.
Local authorities are asking the public to report suspicious people or vehicles in their neighborhood during daytime hours — particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
"We're asking that they look at behavior, not race," Sherwin said. Examples of the behavior include:
• rental cars in residential neighborhoods
• people acting suspiciously, looking around homes, peering into windows
• people who appear to be moving singular large objects out of residences, such as safes
• strangers who knock on your door, and when answered, have no explanation for their presence
• occupied vehicles parked in driveways where one person exits, but doesn't immediately enter the residence, or who lingers near the front doorway for an extended period of time
• vehicles in the area with out-of-state license plates, in conjunction with other factors listed
Sherwin emphasized that residents not approach the individuals, but call 911 and report as much information as possible about what they see.
Suspects already arrested have been of varying races and ethnicities, Sherwin said, adding that the best indicator of criminal activity is the behavior, not the appearance.
Rochester police are proactively investigating, he said, and have reached out to small business owners as well as professional groups within the community to raise awareness of the threat, as well as to encourage them to secure valuables and large amounts of cash in safety deposit boxes or other secure locations.
Anyone with information related to prior cases is asked to call the department's non-emergency number, 328-6800, or Crime Stoppers, 800-222-TIPS(8477).
For crimes in progress or recently observed, call 911 immediately.