Maplewood Police Track Suspects in Black Friday ‘Take-Out’ Retail Thefts

Maplewood Police say they believe they identified the group of thieves that hit three Best Buy stores in Blaine, Maplewood and Burnsville last weekend.

The thefts began Friday night in Blaine when a group of people entered one of the electronics retailer’s outlets, seized high-value merchandise and fled. They appeared to be targeting televisions, tablets, hoverboards, and other electronics.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said there were 10 to 16 people involved in the thefts and estimated they took just over $ 7,000 in merchandise. Steiner said the flights took just five minutes.

“This type of criminal behavior is unacceptable. … This is very damaging to our community affairs and also to public safety, ”Steiner said Wednesday at a press conference at Maplewood town hall. “This behavior causes panic and chaos.”

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans and Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner discuss efforts to track down large-scale retail theft at Best Buy stores in three different Twin Cities suburbs last Friday .

Tim Nelson | MPR News

Steiner said investigators have yet to make any arrests, but plan to file felony theft charges with the Ramsey County District Attorney’s Office next week.

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said financial crime investigators with his agency have joined the effort, helping coordinate local investigations and providing analytical and forensic assistance in cases of need.

Evans said thefts tended to drop this year in Minnesota, but large-scale group thefts are on the increase.

“We’re seeing an increase in these types of large-scale thefts… organized crime networks,” Evans said. “The message we want to send today is that law enforcement is working together and organized retail theft will not be tolerated in Minnesota.”

The thefts were part of a wave of such crimes across the country last week, hitting high-end retailers, Home Depot stores and other stores.

Police said customers could help fight thefts and suggested that if they saw a group of people walking into a retail store, they would call 911 and report any suspicious activity. But they also said passers-by should not intervene in the incident.

“Stay clear of the incident in general,” Steiner said.

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