A Faribault man charged last week with heroin possession in Minneapolis is accused of breaking into multiple homes in rural Rice County in November, stealing jewelry and weapons.
Justin Walter Lindgren, 30, is behind bars in Rice County, charged with five felonies: possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine, and four counts of second-degree burglary, each of which has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Rice County authorities investigated seven residential burglaries, and one attempted burglary, beginning Nov. 19, according to the criminal complaint.
The first burglary, on Nov. 19, was a home in the 2000 block of 150th Street East in Faribault. The homeowner reported that several pieces of jewelry, including Steiger and Fossil watches, a knife, an Xbox 360 and a shotgun were stolen.
A day later, the shotgun was found in the Straight River between the Ravine Street bridge and a Faribault bar.
Also on Nov. 19, a resident reported that 38 pieces of jewelry had been stolen from a home in the 3100 block of Cass Circle in Webster. The stolen items included a herringbone necklace, an emerald pendant, a gold bracelet, two pairs of pearl earrings and a pair of gold earrings.
A resident in the 14000 block of Acorn Trail in Faribault reported on Nov. 23 that a woman had tried to sell discount cards for restaurants. The resident, who provided a description of the woman and the white pickup she was driving, was suspicious because the discount cards were for restaurants outside the area.
On Nov. 23, someone tried to break into a home in the 13300 block of Baseline Road in rural Rice County, about a mile north of the reported suspicious activity on Acorn Trail, according to the complaint. The home’s back garage door was kicked in and the back deck screen door had been opened, but nothing was missing from the house.
Another resident in the 5100 block of 210th Street West in Faribault told authorities that a man and a woman drove into the driveway on Nov. 26, and the woman tried to sell restaurant discount cards. When the resident refused to buy the cards, the couple left.
A burglary in the 8500 block of Holland Trail in Faribault was reported on Nov. 26. The home’s burglar alarm was activated just before 3 p.m.; deputies found that the burglar entered the home through an unlocked door and stole more than 20 pieces of jewelry and a jewelry box.
Three more sightings of the couple and the white pickup were reported on Nov. 28 and 29, two in Webster and one in Lonsdale. The descriptions of the man and woman and the truck matched those given in earlier reports.
Two more burglaries were reported on Nov. 28, one in the 8000 block of Elmore Avenue in Webster and the other in the 13900 block of Fairbanks Avenue in Lonsdale. In the Webster incident, the burglar got away with a number of pieces of jewelry, including a diamond and platinum wedding ring, a diamond and topaz necklace and children’s piggy banks. In the Lonsdale burglary, a .22-caliber revolver and 150 rounds of ammunition were taken.
Authorities traced the Ford pickup to Michelle Ciochetto, who had sold jewelry at several pawn shops in the Twin Cities in the previous three weeks. Deputies recovered some of the pawned jewelry, which was subsequently identified as among the items stolen in the Rice County burglaries.
Ciochetto, who is also charged in the spree of burglaries, admitted to investigators that she and Lindgren were responsible for the burglaries and the attempted burglary, according to the complaint. She said she saw Lindgren throw the shotgun into the river near his home, and that she had hidden the diamond and platinum ring beneath landscape rocks at the Steele County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities found the ring. Ciochetto said the other jewelry had all been sold, according to the complaint.
Lindgren was arrested last week in Minneapolis with Kyle Phillip Heckers of Northfield. The two men were charged with felony heroin possession after police say they were spotted injecting heroin in the parking lot of a north Minneapolis grocery store.
Lindgren was scheduled to make a first appearance on the Rice County charges Dec. 13. No bond has yet been set.
Here's a press release from Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn on the case:
From: Sheriff Troy Dunn, Rice County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Tom Doherty, LeSueur County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Lon Theile, Steele County Sheriff’s Office
Sheriff Brad Milbrath, Waseca County Sheriff’s Office
The above mentioned Sheriff’s Offices would like to update the citizens of our counties that arrests have been made in a rash of residential burglaries that have occurred between September through November.
Michelle Ciochetto and Justin Lindgren have both been charged with multiple counts of burglaries in Rice County. Further charges are pending in the surrounding counties. The investigations continue as we speak with additional suspects. Additional charges may be filed in the future. Those names will not be released until formal charges are filed.
Investigators from Rice, Steele, LeSueur, Waseca, Scott, and Dakota counties and the Faribault and Northfield Police Departments have contributed countless hours into investigating these crimes. Search warrants on a residence, a vehicle and a number of interviews have been conducted. Investigators have been able to secure some of the stolen property taken from these burglaries as well as identify other stolen items that have been pawned or sold. Other stolen items have been recovered from the Straight River as well. Based on interviews into these crimes, the burglaries were done to support heroin addictions.
“This is another example of community members working with Law Enforcement and Law Enforcement working cooperatively to bring these people to justice. We continue to ask our constituents to watch out for their neighbors and report suspicious activity they may witness” said Sheriff Troy Dunn. “We appreciate the hard work our deputies and investigators put into these investigations.”