By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Paula Johns dropped her car off for repairs last month to a Minneapolis mechanic. It was the last time she would see her vehicle.

“Whoever thinks they’re going to bring their car to mechanic shop and then never see the car again?” Johns said.

Her 2006 Toyota Rav 4 was stolen right off the shop’s lot. When it was located several weeks later, the windows were smashed and gang symbols had been painted onto the dash.

“To see they had taken knives, slashed seats, slashed the steering wheel, broken glove box, take all my belongings and then leave all their garbage,” Johns said.

Thieves broke into her mechanic’s shop near 41st Street and Cedar Avenue South and stole keys to Johns’s Toyota and a dozen more vehicles. The car was later found with evidence of drugs, stolen identification cards, hospital discharge papers as well as a counterfeit $50.

“We cleared out numerous hypodermic needles, bags of meth and cocaine, and information of individuals who overdosed,” said her mechanic, who asked not to be identified.

That shop wasn’t the only one targeted on May 7. Hayford Auto, at 34th Street and Cedar Avenue, also had three vehicles stolen — not to mention forcing the owner there to replace a dozen stolen keys and fobs.

“Some are $500 and $600 to replace,” the owner said.

Then, just last week at about 3:30 a.m. and several blocks away, another shop was vandalized. This time the thieves were captured in the act on the shop’s surveillance cameras, which shows four individuals rifling through the office desk, taking keys and a computer.

After several minutes of pilfering the business, you see them boldly pushing a vehicle out of the way of the garage door. Seconds later, they drive a vehicle out from the garage bay and drive off with a Grand Caravan.

Johns says there’s ample evidence to find those responsible.

“I guess what would bring me solace is to have police do their work and get these people behind bars,” Johns said.

Because a property crime impacts far more than the loss of wheels.

Anyone with information on who is responsible should contact Minneapolis Police.

Bill Hudson

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