Students’ apartment repeatedly broken into by unknown perpetrator

Joanna Dornfeld

An unknown man broke into three University students’ lower-level apartment on the 1000 block of 12th Avenue S.E., the first of three break-ins in one week.

“We’re not aware if it’s just because we are an easy target,” said Christine Lindberg.

Thanksgiving morning, Shelly Nichols awoke at 5:30 a.m. and saw a man kneeling next to her bed. She asked who was there and the man said “nobody” and calmly walked from the room, Nichols said.

“He had to be really cocky to come that close to us,” Nichols said.

The white male is in his early 20s, not quite 6 feet tall with brown wavy hair. He was wearing khaki pants, a black zip-up fleece shirt and a black beanie cap on Thanksgiving morning.

Nichols woke her boyfriend, who was sleeping next to her, and called police.

Minneapolis police arrived within minutes but did not find the suspect in the area.

The burglar stole Nichols’ wallet and keys, as well as her boyfriend’s wallet.

There was no sign of forced entry. The victims believe he entered the through the back door.

Someone entered later that day when no one was home. The person left lights and the television on and the refrigerator door open. Nothing was missing, Lindberg said.

The women changed the apartment locks because the suspect had Nichols’ keys.

On Nov. 28 the women returned home to find a window that had not been open since last June propped open in their bathroom. The police were notified again.

According to the police report, the women believe the window was left open for the suspect to enter the apartment at a later time.

The women do not know why someone is entering their apartment. No one has illegally entered the apartment on the upper level of the duplex.

The victims wonder if the suspect entered the apartment during the summer and obtained keys, Nichols said.

Lindberg warned other people to be cautious and wary of suspicious behavior.

“If we hadn’t been suspicious of everything going on, we probably wouldn’t have thought about (the open window),” Lindberg said. “There have been times before when you wouldn’t have thought anything of it.”

The three roommates decided to move out of the apartment after the third incident.

In other police news:

ïNicole Thurstin was charged with solicitation, inducement and promotion of prostitution Nov. 30.

She was arrested Nov. 28 after a 19-year-old woman agreed to have sex with an undercover officer for money. The 19-year-old – who was also arrested – told the officers Thurstin drove her around and she gave all of her money to Thurstin.

Thurstin was released from Hennepin County Jail on Monday.

This is the third arrest for prostitution at the Econo Lodge located at 2500 University Ave S.E. in the last month.

ïA car struck a University student and fled the scene on the corner of Cleveland Avenue North and Larpenteur Avenue on Nov. 28 at approximately 6 p.m.

There are no suspects in the case.

ïUniversity police and fire departments were dispatched to a suspicious fire at the VFW Cancer Research Center at 406 Harvard St. S.E. on Saturday at 3:36 p.m.

The fire broke out in the basement of the building. The Minneapolis Fire Department Arson Unit was called to the scene.

University police determined the fire was accidental, said Officer Erik Stenemann.