MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota police officers are concerned that a group of jewelry store robbers could get more violent.
They’ve hit 13 stores so far, including Douglas Diamonds in Faribault, which was caught on surveillance tape. Police said the group goes in the front door and out the back during the night.
The stores have been empty each time and nobody has been hurt, but police say they’re concerned that could change. In fact, Faribault’s Police Chief believes these burglars are armed and dangerous.
“How they do it I think is interesting,” said Chief Don Gudmundson. “They are in and out in 70 to 80 seconds. It would be my view that people this bold and brash would be armed.”
Gudmundson is also concerned they’ll continue to hit stores across southern and central Minnesota until police stop them. Two stores in Faribault got hit. The latest was Chappuis Jewelers on April 24.
It took less than 60 seconds for burglars to steal jewelry worth thousands from the store that Nate and Amy Chappuis own.
“Oh, it was a mess definitely,” said Nate.
It’ll take him and his wife much longer to get over the smash-and-grab.
After seeing the extreme damage, they have visions of burglars destroying their family-owned business.
“They smashed this case here. Then on to this one,” Nate said as he walked through the store.
Burglars used crowbars to break glass and then swept the jewelry into trash bags.
“I just couldn’t believe it when I saw all the broken glass. Again, just the worst feeling I’ve had,” Nate said.
Burglars struck the same way at Douglas Diamonds down the street, doing damage in just more than a minute, stealing $11,000 in jewelry.
“Then the other guy smashed this case first. Then over here, he smashed this case,” said owner Mark Douglas.
Burglars actually hand-picked what they wanted, going mostly for yellow gold. It took Mark 90 hours to clean up.
“You always have that sense of being violated,” he said.
Every store hit is family owned. Stores are located in Cambridge, Wayzata, St. Louis Park, Buffalo, Hutchinson, Hastings, Alexandria, Faribault, Apple Valley, Eagan, Farmington and Stillwater.
Police have had a tough time getting a good description of the burglars because in the surveillance video, they’re wearing masks, gloves and sweatshirts.
“You just don’t want anybody to go through what we’ve gone through,” said Amy.
She and her husband count themselves as lucky because they weren’t hurt. In fact, no one was in their store when burglars broke in.
“We can pick up the pieces and keep going. This is nothing,” she said.
Faribault Police are taking the lead in investigating these burglaries because two happened in town. They’re looking for help to find the person or people responsible. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call (507) 334-4305.