By Reg Chapman

COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. (WCCO) — Dozens of new cars stolen before even making it to the dealer’s showroom. And a city official confirmed one suspect is in custody after several vehicles were stolen from a shipping yard in Cottage Grove Monday night.

Capt. Randy McAlister told WCCO this is the second time this has happened from the shipping yard on the 9200 block of Ideal Avenue, hidden in a wooded area off of a frontage road.

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“In the first incident I believe they had a $1.2 million worth of property damage and/or vehicle theft, so it was pretty substantial,” McAlister said.

Investigators say the new vehicles came off the rail cars into the shipping yard and right into the hands of thieves, “a car load of youth,” as McAlister said.

On Monday night, five vehicles were stolen.

A Cottage Grove Police officer on routine patrol ran right into the path of one of the thieves trying to get away. The driver jumped on southbound Highway 61 and began speeding up.

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“He saw one of these vehicles on Jamaica Avenue and it didn’t have its lights on, so he was just going to initiate a traffic stop,” McAlister said. “It exited right away at Innovation and crashed, so they were able to get the 15-year-old male into custody … So far as the information we have and the ones we’ve caught, they are all kids.”

Dakota County Sheriff’s deputies were also able to catch a suspect.

“The pack of vehicles continued into Dakota County, through Hastings, and the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office picked up the pack at some point somewhere around Hastings,” McAlister said. “There was some sort of pursuit there as well, and they got another juvenile male into custody.”

Police believe there is a connection between both break-ins and the people involved. Three of the five cars stolen Monday night and six of the seven from the first break-in have been recovered. The ones recovered in the first incident were found abandoned in residential areas.

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The aforementioned 15-year-old suspect was treated for minor injuries and released into the custody of his parents. Investigators are not sure what the teens are doing with the cars.

Reg Chapman