Plymouth Police say all the pieces came together to catch a group of people they say were breaking into unlocked cars.
Early Thursday morning, an officer in Plymouth was making regular rounds enforcing a parking ordinance that prohibits cars from being parked on the streets from 2 a.m. to 5 p.m. He noticed something not quite right with the tag on one car and went to the car to issue a citation.
"When he went up to the vehicle, he realized windows down, keys in ignition, there was the smell of marijuana and and marijuana lying on the seat, so he knew it was something other than someone forgot to move the car into the driveway," said Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein.
Police apprehended the man inside, which led to four more arrests of people who police say were out stealing property out of unlocked cars.
"They were probably somewhere else committing those acts, and parked the car there while they were on foot elsewhere in the neighborhood," said Chief Goldstein.
Plymouth Police arrested two adults Cory Walz and Delphis Kuto, both 18, plus three 16 and 17-year-olds, all from the Plymouth-Maple Grove area. The suspects are awaiting charges and police are investigating similar break-ins in nearby Maple Grove and Edina.
"It was the juvenile suspects that said this "car shopping" very prevalent, that a lot of people are doing it and it's a very easy crime to commit," said Chief Goldstein.
"Car shopping" refers to criminals going through neighborhoods and picking up items out of unlocked cars. If a car is locked, the culprits keep looking for an unlocked car.
"All the vehicles they tampered with and took stuff from were unlocked," said Chief Goldstein. "Once they get in the car, they are going to hit the garage door opener and if a garage door opens up, they are going to go in and get things that don't belong to them."
If you don't want this happening to you, police have simple, common sense advice:
*Remove valuable items from your car so it doesn't tempt thieves.
*Park your car in a locked garage if you can.
*If you do park on the street, lock your car.
*Be on the lookout for suspicious behavior. Someone looking into cars, for example, is something the police should know about. Please call 911.
Shannon Slatton, reporting
Friday, August 03, 2012