Police say that two men from Prior Lake blazed a trail from Burnsville to Eagan in a stolen pickup, burglarizing homes along the way, before leading authorities on a lengthy chase through the darkened city streets.
James Francis Muelken, 28, and Andrew Joseph Fischer, 23, each face five felony charges: First-degree burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, possession of burglary or theft tools, fleeing police, and receiving stolen property.
The alleged spree came to the attention of Eagan police at 2:45 a.m. on Friday, when officers were called to a home on Balsam Trail in Eagan on report of a burglary in progress. According to the criminal complaint, the homeowner heard a noise in the garage, which was located beneath his bedroom. When he looked out the window, he saw two suspects running from the garage to a full-sized pickup parked in front. When police arrived at the scene, they discovered that the garage service door had been pried open, and two sets of footprints led to vehicle tracks made in freshly fallen snow.
The Eagan PD located the pickup, but the two men ran from truck as they approached. Officers pursued them on foot. Their tracks led to a nearby home, where a silver minivan was seen backing out of the drive. Officers saw the minivan coast through the neighborhood with its headlights out. A pack of squad cars gave chase, dogging the minivan with lights and sirens. The driver gunned the accelerator, blowing through a series of stops signs. At Diffley and Beaver Dam Road the van spun out of control and crashed. Undeterred, the suspects again fled on foot, with numerous officers in tow.
At last, Muelken and Fischer were apprehended near Blackhawk Road and Deerhills Trail. Both declined to give statements to police.
Investigators determined that the truck had been stolen out of Burnsville. When claimed, the owner told police that it was full of property that didn't belong to him, along with a red pry bar. Police later discovered that the two men had stolen the silver minivan merely by nabbing the keys, which were hanging on a hook near an unlocked service door.
As the morning progressed, numerous reports of theft came in from residents in the neighborhood around Balsam Trail. Residents reported that cars, garages and homes had been broken into and items were missing. Many were found in the stolen truck.
Muelken and Fischer made their first court appearance on Monday. Their next hearing will take place on March 19.