'Serial burglar' sentenced to 33 months in prison
The man described by Rochester police as a "serial burglar" who may have committed more than 100 commercial thefts in 2015 has been sent to prison.
Brian Stefan Williams, 44, was charged in May in Olmsted County District Court with four felony counts of second-degree attempted burglary and a single count of second-degree burglary, also a felony.
He pleaded guilty in October to the burglary charge as well as one of the attempted burglary charges. The remaining counts were dismissed at Monday's sentencing.
Judge Debra Jacobson ordered Williams to serve concurrent prison terms of 33 months and 15 months, with credit for 195 days served, and $1,007 in restitution.
State and local law enforcement spent "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of man-hours dedicated to solving" the rash of late-night commercial break-ins that climbed into triple digits earlier this year, according to Rochester Police Capt. John Sherwin.
The situation stumped local authorities until a state-wide crime alert was issued following a May 7 burglary at a Rochester business called ExercisAbilities, where a "black male suspect was visible in good quality surveillance video footage and still photos," according to the criminal complaint.
A Twin Cities law enforcement agency contacted the Rochester Police Department to say the details and description match the "modus operandi" of Williams, who is a prolific and well-known metro area burglar, according to the complaint.
A search of court records shows that Williams has at least 13 prior felony cases involving burglaries.
"He's very comfortable with what he's doing," Sherwin said after the arrest was made, "the type of criminal who has ice water in his veins. He went months without being caught, so he's a good burglar — but obviously not that good."
The Rochester Police Department stopped Williams leaving the scene of a May 14 burglary at Arnold's Supply in Northwest Rochester. He was not taken into custody at that point, but it allowed authorities to get authorization for a tracking device to be placed on Williams' vehicle; it became active on May 16.
Local authorities also obtained authorization to track Williams' call log and movements via his cell phone.
On May 19, officers tracked Williams' cell phone to a business park in Northwest Rochester. A vehicle registered in Williams' name was observed leaving shortly after officers arrived. The officer exited his vehicle to find "pry marks from a small tool similar to a screwdriver on the door that led into Vision Salon, Final Cut Construction, NexGen Sign and Graphics, Jostens, Vision Church, and Leslie Lurkin Construction," according to the complaint. Pry marks were also observed on a side entry to DEKOR.
The owner of one of the businesses told authorities that he observed a large black male matching Williams' description walking near the business complex earlier in the day. The business owner later identified Williams out of a photo lineup.
Though Williams is the suspect in a number of local burglary cases, his probable cause arrest was based on the May 14 and May 8 burglaries detailed in the complaints.