BURNSVILLE, Minn. (KMSP) - North Star Mini Storage in Burnsville, Minn. usually keeps customer's valuables safe from prying eyes, but a group of burglars caught on the facility's surveillance cameras have now been captured in real life.
"It feels really good,” said Detective Dave Luchsinger of the Burnsville Police Department. “There are a lot of crimes that we take in that we aren't able to get prosecuted, let alone get a conviction. Having one like this does definitely feel good."
Two years ago, Fox 9 reported how investigators were asking for the public's help identifying the people in surveillance pictures cleaning out a pair of unrelated storage units. The suspects stole more than $80,000 worth of belongings including two original paintings, as well as items with priceless sentimental value like a Christmas lawn ornament based on a drawing of Santa on a Harley.
"As a result of the news story, I had a handful of calls from people who believed they recognized the suspects,” said Detective Luchsinger. “Two of those subjects we were able to prove were involved in the burglary."
Investigators had already identified Andrew Casserly as a possible suspect, but thanks to those calls, they were able to use cell phone records, and evidence from Facebook and other social media to link Jeremy Gonser and his girlfriend Sarah Wynne to the crime as well and return some of the stolen property.
"We know there's a substantial amount still out there,” said Detective Luchsinger. “If anyone sees this large Santa on a Harley, we're still looking for it, but we were able to get a substantial amount of the property back to the victims."
Investigators say they were eventually able to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, but they wouldn't have solved the crime without a little assistance.
"The public's help in this case was instrumental," the detective said. "Having a successful resolution is one of those things that keeps us going."
All three suspects were charged and convicted of third degree burglary. In fact, Gonser was just sentenced to two and a half years in prison Friday for that crime.