Apartment thefts spur online manhunt

After a string of burglaries in FloCo Fusion, students posted photos of alleged suspects.

by Nicholas Studenski

A string of burglaries hit FloCo Fusion apartments in Marcy-Holmes late Friday night.

The crimes prompted speculation on social media, with students posting photos of alleged suspects on Facebook and Twitter and identifying who they thought the men were by name.

Minneapolis police public information officer John Elder said because the three incidents happened around the same time and in the same building, it was a “possibility” that the same person or group of people committed the crimes. He declined to comment further on the investigation.

Mechanical engineering sophomore Timothy Zalusky said he and his roommate weren’t at their apartment in FloCo Fusion between 11 p.m. Friday and 1 a.m. Saturday, and the door was unlocked while they were gone.

When they returned, Zalusky said they noticed that both of their laptops — each worth about $1,000 — were missing.

FloCo’s property manager sent an email to building residents Saturday afternoon with three pictures of two men, apparently from security cameras. The email said they were suspects in the incident. FloCo management declined to comment.

Elder refused to say whether the alleged suspects in the photos were police suspects in the case.

Zalusky said he and his friends recognized the men in the photos and had seen them in the building “acting sketchy” before but didn’t know their names. Zalusky posted the photos to the “University of Minnesota Candid Camera and Fail Pics” Facebook page, which he runs; to his personal Facebook account; and on Twitter.

He said posting the photos on social media could increase the odds of identifying the alleged suspects.

“I really, really wanted to do something about the situation,” he said.

After posting the photos, Zaluzky got a call from someone who said he thought he knew one of the suspects.

Zalusky searched Facebook for the name and said he found someone who resembled one of the men in the photos. After looking through the man’s friends, Zalusky found someone else who he said looked like the other suspect.

He then posted the two names to Twitter and Facebook, writing that an anonymous tip said they were the men in the photos.

The next day, Zalusky said, one of the suspects had deleted his Facebook account.

Zalusky said he attempted to contact police with the suspect’s names but was told no one could take the information until Monday.

The creator of the @UMNCRIME Twitter account, a child psychology sophomore, also posted the photos of the men and reposted Zalusky’s tweet identifying them by name to her more than 1,200 followers. She asked to remain anonymous because people often send her crime information.

She lives in FloCo and said she wanted to inform more people of the incident. She said she’s convinced the men in the photos are who the anonymous tip said they were, but she would apologize if they’re not.

Zalusky said he’s impressed with the response the photos have gotten.

“They’ll definitely get caught eventually,” he said, referring to the burglars.

Marketing sophomore Anna Laedtke’s laptop was also stolen Friday night. Laedtke was gone at the time but said her roommates were home when the incident happened.

The apartment door was unlocked, and Laedtke said her roommates were in their rooms. Laedtke noticed her laptop missing when she got home.

In the third incident, political science freshman Cheyenne Syvertson-Hagestuen said her roommates were home when her computer was stolen.

At about 11 p.m., one of her roommates heard the door open and asked who was there, she said. A few minutes later, the roommate got up and noticed lights on that she had turned off.

At first, Syvertson-Hagestuen said her roommate thought someone had just stumbled in drunk, looking for a party upstairs.

Syvertson-Hagestuen said she noticed her laptop missing the next morning. She said she thinks the suspects came in because the door was unlocked but left when they heard her roommate.