Burglar unsuccessfully targets two buildings at University

by Justin Costley

The state of Minnesota filed burglary charges Nov. 2 against Mark Paul Murto in Hennepin County District Court in connection with break-ins at two University buildings.
On Oct. 31, between 11:20 and 11:40 a.m., Murto allegedly entered private offices in the Civil Engineering building and the connected Shepherd Lab building.
According to the court complaint, Jennifer Packer witnessed Murto inspecting the contents of her backpack inside her office, room 660 of the Civil Engineering building.
Packer informed Murto that she was calling security, causing him to get in a nearby elevator and leave the area.
From there, court documents state Murto moved to the private office of Simin Hickman in room 149 of the Shepherd Lab building.
Hickman, assistant director in the Academic and Distributed Computing Services, initially noticed Murto when she hit him with the office door as she attempted to enter her office.
Hickman said she looked in the gap between the door and the frame and saw Murto behind the door, rifling through her purse.
She said she was initially fearful after seeing him in her office.
“I completely froze; I was speechless at first,” Hickman said. “When you first find someone in your office, you don’t really know quite what they’re going to do.”
Hickman said she asked him what he was doing in her office and with her purse, and Murto responded first that he was looking for a telephone, before changing his story and saying he was looking for the bathroom and a telephone book.
After observing Murto for a few minutes, Hickman said he seemed to be harmless. She called a colleague next door for help and subsequently called University Police.
Hickman and her colleague detained Murto until police arrived, although she said Murto was resigned to being arrested at that point.
“There was no resistance at all,” Hickman said. “We didn’t actually have to physically hold him. He stood by the door, and we told him he couldn’t leave until the police came.”
Hickman added she smelled alcohol on Murto’s breath, and it was clear he had been drinking.
“He didn’t seem vicious or angry, he just seemed mellow and just stood there,” Hickman said. “He just seemed like he was not really thinking straight at all.”
Hickman said police told her Murto has been arrested before. He is being charged with two counts of third-degree burglary. If convicted, Murto could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each offense.
In other police news:
Minneapolis police responded to a Nov. 2 burglary at a residence at 705 Fifth St. S.E.
Stacey Holland reported the crime after she entered her garage at 8:50 a.m, discovering the break-in.
Police reports state an unknown suspect or suspects entered Holland’s garage the night before, stealing numerous items from the garage and a stereo from the car inside.
The overhead garage is the only entrance, and Holland said she thinks that the door was closed at the time of the burglary.
Police noted no damage to the garage door and, after a canvass of the area, have no suspects.
Justin Costley covers police and courts and welcomes comments at jcost[email protected]. He can also be reached at (612)627-4070 x3224