By Jeff Wagner

OTSEGO, Minn. (WCCO) – Two men are in the Wright County Jail, possibly connected to what police have called a “sophisticated” string of burglaries plaguing the west metro.

Several home and car break-ins have been reported in nearly a dozen towns including Big Lake, Monticello, Plymouth and as far south as Eagan. In a Facebook post, the Wright County Sheriff’s Office says there have been about 20 calls since June 3 regarding the crimes.

The men were arrested Monday morning in Otsego.

Standing next to his truck, Jesse Oldenburg pointed out the spot where investigators dusted for fingerprints on the rear passenger door after someone tried stealing his tool bag from inside.

“Stealing my tools – that’s how I make my livelihood,” he said.

Later in the day, he saw a deputy talking to his neighbor across the street. The neighbor had flagged down the deputy because a backpack was suspiciously sitting in the front yard. It was Oldenburg’s tool bag. That’s when he learned he was one of several homeowners burglarized overnight in the neighborhood along 53rd Street North near the Crow River.

Another homeowner, who didn’t want to reveal his identity out of concern, said two bikes and a TV were stolen out of his garage. He later got all of his belongings back.

The last attempt happened at a house on the other side of the neighborhood. The homeowner told WCCO he called 911 after hearing the thieves inside around 5:30 a.m. and said they took off on bikes, believed to be those stolen from the other home. A K-9 unit later tracked them to a nearby riverbed where deputies arrested them around sunrise.

“I was happy because I didn’t want people to get away with stuff like that. But hearing that it’s a bigger, bigger thing, I just hope that they get everybody,” Oldenburg said.

Days earlier in Big Lake, home surveillance cameras caught thieves opening cars. Police say suspects look for garage door openers to get inside houses and steal valuables.

It’s unclear if the men in the video were the two caught in Otsego, but investigators believe they’re part of a much larger, coordinated group targeting the west metro. That’s why police are reminding people to stay vigilant, keep their cars and homes locked at night and bring garage door openers inside.

“I’m gonna put a cable through all my toolboxes and padlock them inside the truck so even if they do break a window or something then, they can try but they ain’t gonna pull the stuff out,” Oldenburg said.

Investigators say the two men, both 18 years old, are from Coon Rapids and Brooklyn Park. They’re expected to go before a judge Tuesday.

Jeff Wagner