Minnesota man takes out newspaper ad to catch burglar

Once a week, 56-year-old Gary Van Donsel pages through The Town and Country Shopper, to catch up on all the news that's fit to print.

"May have to go out to dinner at Chico's says right here in the paper -- Taco Tuesday," he said while looking over the current issue of the weekly paper.

Now, the avid Shopper reader is hoping an ad in his local paper might help him after a break-in.

"Posting a reward of $1,500 for the arrest and conviction of the low life thief that broke into my house on March 5, 2015," said the ad Van Donsel posted earlier this month

Not taking the theft lying down, Van Donsel eschewed social media and chose the aid of print media to help solve the crime. Knowing the constraints of the language print will allow, Van Donsel had to think twice about how to reference the robber.

"Low life thief, I could have said a lot more but I don't think they would have printed it."

The robbery that took place in his home on North 145th Street took more than just some belongings.

"Here's where they pushed the door in and cracked it in both together."

As his ad said, it was in early March when Van Donsel's wife came home from work to find the back door kicked in, and their flat-screen TV gone.

"This is the cabinet they just busted it out," said Van Donsel.

What is worse for Van Donsel, is what was taken from his gun cabinet upstairs. Ten guns worth about $10,000, and with a sentimental value that is priceless, were stolen as well.

"I got ‘em from my dad, who got ‘em from his dad," Van Donsel lamented, "It makes me disgusted."

Knowing the community would come to his aid, Van Donsel paid for an ad in the paper. He initially offered a reward of $500 for information leading to the arrest of the burglar, but a neighbor two houses down, who was also robbed that day, matched the reward money. After another neighbor added $500, the reward now stands at $1,500.

The help of neighbors is helpful, but the loss of security hurts.

"The trust is gone. You don't trust as easy anymore. We've always been people if you need help, come and ask. We'll help you. Don't take it from us," said his wife, Terry.

In this age of social media, it can seem curious that Van Donsel didn't just start a hashtag or post to his Facebook account, but some people like a more old fashioned method.

"I don't know how to do that. I'll be honest, I'm a farmer," he said.

For now, he hopes the ad helps whoever violated his home get their reward.

"Send them guns back and get a job."


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