MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Convicted burglar Robert Buckingham, charged in a violent home invasion, could be connected to nearly two dozen other break-ins.

Buckingham, 33, targeted Latino families in south Minneapolis, including in one home burglary just this week.

“Usually stuff around here, this area right here, bad stuff doesn’t happen with the school there and all,” said neighbor Christopher Hill.

At about 6 p.m. Sunday, police say Buckingham cut through the window screen of a home on the 2700 block of 12th Avenue South. Once inside, he made his way upstairs where three children were home alone. A 14-year-old boy was in the shower during the break-in.

The boy told police that Buckingham came into the bathroom, forced him out of the shower, and threatened to kill him at knifepoint before zip-tying his hands together.

Police said Buckingham then ransacked the home and made off with about $10,000 in cash. Investigators said surveillance video in the area helped them identify their suspect and arrest him.

“I’ve got a 12-year-old son that plays soccer across the street and I worry about him,” said Hill. “And it’s messed up that you can’t be in your own house and feel safe in it.”

Police believe Buckingham may be connected to as many as two dozen other violent home invasions, and in most cases he didn’t act alone.

“This group of individuals targeted Hispanics and Latino families,” said police spokesman John Elder.

They’ve identified at least one other suspect and have two more people of interest. Elder believes undocumented Latino families were targeted because the group thought they would keep cash at home.

“The suspect and suspects would threaten the children with weapons, including guns and knives, to gain compliance from their parents,” said Elder.

Buckingham remains in custody Wednesday night. He has a number of burglary convictions dating back to 2006, and he’s also been convicted of assault.

Elder said this string of violent burglaries is so expansive that they have to go back to the 1990s to find anything similar. During that spree, elderly residents were targeted.

John Lauritsen