Victim's warning after video captures masked bandit stealing jewelry safe

A west metro homeowner, recently victimized in a high-end burglary, is speaking out to warn others.

The woman’s entire jewelry collection was wiped out in just a few minutes with losses topping $1 million. Her home surveillance cameras captured a lone, masked suspect dropping a safe off a second-floor balcony, and then scrambling to a get-away vehicle before police arrived.

Authorities believe the crime is part of a sophisticated criminal enterprise targeting affluent neighborhoods across the metro.

"You never think these things are going to happen to you, you know? And you just feel violated," the woman told reporter Paul Blume during an interview in her home. She asked FOX 9 not to fully identify her to protect her privacy and security.

The woman is a successful business owner who covets jewelry. Her collection included fine pieces like a floating diamond Cartier watch she purchased in Paris, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as family heirlooms that very much became part of her identity, like her precious grandmother’s wedding ring she cannot put a price tag on. 

"My grandma and I were very close, and I was able to get her ring. I wore it quite often. It is probably not worth a lot, but it is gone," the woman said. "It hurts. I feel violated. I feel like someone came into my personal space and took all my memories from me."

The woman showed FOX 9 how the brazen crime unfolded in mere minutes. It began Wednesday evening, Feb. 7, around 5:30 p.m., with the lone, masked perpetrator throwing a large rock through a glass door leading to the backyard pool. He then raced right upstairs where he found the unbolted safe in a master bedroom cabinet and dropped it from the balcony to the pool deck below.

He also stole a travel bag with a shoulder strap filled with valuables before scrambling away from the Medina home. He was in and out in five minutes. The family’s sophisticated alarm and surveillance system immediately alerted authorities, who showed up less than 10 minutes later. But it was still too late, even with police on high alert following a recent pair of break-ins in the city.

"Targeting primarily the master bedroom suites and checking that area. And not spending any of their time in the house. So, he is in out in minutes," explained Medina Police Chief Jason Nelson.

Nelson believes the crime is part of a well-practiced criminal operation that scouts out affluent neighborhoods and strikes when they believe no one is home. In this case, the suspect waited for work crews renovating a home on the other side of the property treeline to leave for the day before parking the get-away car in that home’s driveway. The woman was on a flight back to Minnesota when she received word about the break-in at her gated property, which she thought was well secured.

"I was on a window seat and I just, the tears. I just can't believe it. I just felt so violated," the woman recalled. "People don't think it is going to happen to them. And I never would have thought they would have taken the whole safe. It is shocking."

Nelson believes the criminals that struck Medina in the last couple of weeks might be responsible for at least 10 similar, high-end burglaries from Lake Elmo to Wayzata and even potentially beyond the state of Minnesota.

Search warrant filings obtained by FOX 9 show investigators are looking for GPS data from Google, hoping to track cell phones in the areas of these reported crimes. Multiple law enforcement agencies are working together right now at all levels, including the feds, to try and crack the case.