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Thieves Target....Local Minivans?

A selection of crimes and incidents reported by the St. Louis Park Police Department Dec. 31 to Jan. 10.

If you tend to listen to conventional wisdom, you might expect car thieves to be interested in expensive cars, not soccer-mom-mobiles.

However, in three separate incidents on Jan. 3 and Jan. 5, criminals tried to steal minivans in St. Louis Park, according to St. Louis Park police records. The targeted vehicles were parked on the 2600 block of Toledo Ave South, the 2700 block of Utica Ave South, and the 2700 block of Louisiana Ave South. 

In all three cases, criminals broke a window to gain access to the van and then attacked the ignition, either punching it or trying to pry it out of the steering column. Typically, such damage can cost upwards of $1,000 to repair.

It's not clear what saved the first two vehicles, but a police report notes that criminals evidently gave up after discovering the third van's battery was dead.

Dec. 31

Around 1 p.m., police helped broker an end to a multi-hour shouting match between two sisters on the 7300 block of Minnetonka Boulevard.

Burglars hit local charity Hope for the City overnight, taking a $100 computer monitor and a $300 tool chest and rifling through much of the group's offices and warehouse space. Two days later, the nonprofit also reported $600 worth of tools missing after around 30 volunteers flooded its warehouse as part of a pre-planned event.

Jan. 1

A burglar made one good choice in stealing a $2500 engagement ring from a home on the 300 block of Shelard Parkway, and one poor choice in simultaneously nabbing a $100 faux-pearl necklace. The jewelry was most likely stolen on Dec. 24, its owner said.

Around 2 a.m., bouncers at Toby Keith's I Love this Bar & Grill asked for police help to deal with two drunk young men who were shoving and verbally fighting with each other. When police responded, they reported the 23-year-olds were suitably cooperative and apologetic.

It was cold enough around 2:30 a.m. for a St. Louis Park man to leave his car warming up unattended in a parking lot on the 6900 block of Meadowbrook Boulevard for a half-hour. When he returned, the car had been stolen.

A 6-year old Louisiana Court resident told police he saw "mommy stab grandma" after his 24-year old mother and the woman's mother got into a fight. The younger woman—to drunk to give a coherent statement when officers arrived—slashed the older woman on the wrist with a box cutter during an argument. According to the police report, the assailant had been convicted of two felony assault charges in 2005 and 2008, and plead guilty to felony domestic assault in November 2012.

Jan. 2

Ike's Tobacco, on the 7100 block of Cedar Lake Road was struck by a landscaping rock—and a group of burglars—overnight. The criminals smashed the store's front window and made off with the register, the $400 inside it, and 30 cartons of cigarettes. The store's burglar alarm went off, but was apparently never connected to the city's monitoring system.

Around 8 p.m., a Lincoln, NE, resident stopped on Excelsior Boulevard told police he mistook a red light for a green light and turned left onto Park Center Boulevard, directly into the path of an oncoming car. 

Jan. 3

A coin-operated washing machine in a building on the 3000 block of Raleigh Ave South is recovering from the midnight ministrations of a burglar's crowbar. Around $100 in coins were taken, evidently via vacuum, and $225 in damage was done to the laundry room and machine.

Jan. 4

When running routine checks on a driver involved in a car accident at the intersection of Excelsior Ave and Highway 100, police discovered the 45-year old man had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant from Hennepin County. The man was arrested and booked into the Hennepin County Jail in Minneapolis.

Jan. 6

The resident of an apartment on the 5900 block of Oxford Street was very rude to his neighbors.

Jan. 7

A 69-year old woman died of natural causes at a St. Louis Park nursing home.

Jan. 8

Just before midnight, one resident of the 3200 block of Rhode Island Avenue turned to another and said "Dude, there's someone in your car" (or something to that effect). The pair went outside to confront the would-be car thief, who fled before the women or officers could catch him, leaving a punched door lock and damaged car ignition behind.

A car safely parked in front of a residence on the 3100 block of Sumter Ave South disappeared in the night, only to be recovered by Minneapolis police two days later.

Jan. 9

A thief struck a car parked on the 2900 block of Inglewood Ave South around 7 a.m., making off with an iPad, and iPod, a brief case, and a cheap camera.

Thieves at the West End did their shopping in an underground garage rather than at the mall. Around 8 p.m., they broke into a parked truck and made off with $950 in clothing, including eight pairs of pants, five sweatshirts, and one bag.

A resident of the 2800 block of Edgewood Ave told police she met at Home Depot and hired for some handyman projects at her home. The man, who called himself "Mike," told her he needed an air compressor to finish the job, and left with $200 of the resident's cash in order to buy the machine. He never returned, and may have also stolen the woman's iPod. 

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