By Reg Chapman, WCCO-TV
DULUTH (WCCO) — A Duluth News Tribune carrier allegedly used inside information to break into peoples’ homes while they were on vacation, according to police.
Michael Peters, 44, is accused in the string of burglaries, which targeted one neighborhood over a four-month period. He’s been charged with four felony counts of burglary.
Sue Ellefson is one of about a dozen people in the Woodland Neighborhood in Duluth whose homes were burglarized while they were away on vacation.
“We had noticed the backdoor was unlocked,” Ellefson said. “We’d been out of town for 10 days. The next evening, our grandson was here. And we were going to Skype his mom, and we went for the laptop — and it wasn’t there.”
Ellefson’s husband called police.
It didn’t take long for police to notice a pattern. All the victims had stopped their newspaper from being delivered while they were away from home, police said.
Investigators then contacted the Duluth News Tribune, which identified Peters as a carrier who covered the area. According to the Tribune, Peters was a contractor, and not an actual employee.
When investigators served a search warrant at Peters’ house, they say they found jewelry, silver wine glasses and computers. Two local pawn shops also confirmed that Peters sold them silverware and jewelry several times.
According to the criminal complaint, Peters admitted to breaking into 11 homes and knowing that the people who lived there were away.
Peters allegedly told authorities he was after silverware and jewelry, and that he had a gambling problem.
According to the St. Louis County Attorney, Peters could face additional charges.