String of car thefts, random assaults under investigation in St. Paul

Saint Paul police asking the public to be on alert after a string of car thefts and assaults on random people - including a 77-year-old man - across the city in the last week.

Police want to make it clear these acts of violence are very rare for St. Paul, but there has been a spike in them recently and they could be connected. 

St. Paul police believe a group of teenagers may be behind at least five violent assaults against residents across several different neighborhoods in the city. Since last week, car thefts and random attacks have happened in the Como area, Cathedral Hill, Summit Hill and Frogtown. Police say the suspects are looking for crimes of opportunity.

“Some of these instances involve upwards of four to eight suspects coming out of two cars, and so the victims in these cases are being suddenly rushed and attacked by these people, so getting good accurate descriptions of these people is very hard at this point,” said Sgt. Mike Ernster.

Last Wednesday, one of the first victims was a man in his 50s. He was working on his car in his alley when he was approached by a suspect asking to use his cell phone.

“He was struck with a fist and eventually a crow bar that was laying nearby, while he was injured in this incident the suspect took his keys to his car along with his cell phone and drove away,” said Sgt. Ernster.

Sgt. Mike Ernster says suspects in two more stolen vehicles went on to commit three more robberies and assaults. One of the stolen cars was involved in a pursuit Sunday by the State Patrol near Brooklyn Park. Three juveniles were potentially identified, but because the attacks happened so fast, victims were not able to confirm they were involved. Police are still trying to determine a motive for the violence.

None of the victims required hospitalization. Police want the community to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior. They are asking the public to come forward with any information they may have.