String of daytime burglaries hits Wadena
A series of daytime residential burglaries over the past month in Wadena and the surrounding area has netted thousands of dollars in cash and valuables, authorities said Tuesday as they pursued several leads in the cases. Sergeant Naomi Plautz of the Wadena Police Department said that while in some cases the suspect or suspects would break into the homes, in others they would simply walk in while the homes were unsecured. She would not say that the burglaries were definitely linked, although they all occurred during daylight hours.
The first crime was reported May 24 and the most recent was reported on June 21, Plautz said. A total of three successful burglaries occurred within Wadena city limits, with one additional attempt on June 3 where a homeowner coming to investigate a suspicious noise caused the would-be burglar to flee. A description obtained by the WPD has the suspect in that incident as a white male in his early twenties with brown hair and approximately 5 feet 10 inches to six feet in height. Although the total dollar value of the stolen property from all the burglaries has not yet been tallied, Plautz said it ranges in the thousands. Plautz declined to comment on whether the burglaries were drug related.
The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office was also called to a burglary on June 18 in Wadena Township, involving the theft of cash as well as gold and jewelry. Investigator Amy Ament said the total value of items taken during the burglary is estimated at $4,080, not including a valuable antique to which it was difficult to assign a dollar figure.
Sheriff Mike Carr said the burglary in greater Wadena fits the pattern of the ones that happened within city limits.
“I believe without a doubt that you’re looking at the same suspect or suspects as the City of Wadena,” Carr said. “They’re the same M.O.s: daytime burglaries.... taking jewelry, gold.”
Wadena Police Chief Bruce Uselman said that the burglars may be observing or “casing” potential target homes before entering to see if residents are there. Generally, ideal targets for burglars are homes with high shrubs or fences that obscure line of sight to the home and would hide a break-in as it happens, Uselman said.
“What they’re looking for... is a residence where they can be concealed,” he said.
Uselman said another burglary tactic is to pose as a door-to-door solicitor when casing people’s homes. If someone comes to the door, they give a sales pitch as a ruse -- but if nobody comes to the door, the burglars know they have an easy target. Door-to-door salespeople are required in Wadena to have permits, so an easy way to check to see if someone at your door is legitimate is to ask them to show their permit, he said.
He said residents should make sure the doors and windows of their home are locked in order to deny criminals easy access. Both Carr and Plautz advised the public not to post information about trips and vacations on social media sites like Facebook, as burglars and accomplices can use this information to determine when residents are away from home. Plautz said that the police department can provide free checks on a home while the owners are away.
Authorities encouraged those with information on the case to contact the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office at (218)-631-7600, the Wadena Police Department at (218)-631-7700, or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477. Rewards may be given by Crime Stoppers to those who provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects.