MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — You may have noticed police cars staged outside some Best Buy locations in the Twin Cities.
It's extra security after a rash of organized thefts that happened during Black Friday with groups between 10 and 16 people stealing thousands of dollars' worth of electronics.
Maplewood police say the same group hit three Best Buy locations in a very short amount of time.
Police say the group started with the Blaine location then moved to Maplewood before finishing up in Burnsville.
All three thefts followed the same pattern, a large group walks into the store, they grab some electronics, and then they walk out the front door.
“Here in Maplewood, I’d say they were in and out of the store in less than five minutes,” Maplewood Police Lieutenant Joe Steiner says. "As law enforcement, we are taking this very seriously. This type of criminal behavior is unacceptable."
Lt. Steiner says the thieves made off with about $7,000 worth of electronics at the Maplewood location.
He says the stolen items were mostly large TV’s and tablets.
“A similar amount of products were also stolen at the Burnsville and Blaine locations,” Lt. Steiner says.
On Wednesday, Maplewood Police and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) announced that investigators have identified several suspects in this case.
“We are hoping to make arrests in the coming days,” Lt. Steiner says.
The BCA says organized thefts like these are becoming increasingly common nationwide.
"We are seeing an increase in these types of large-scale thefts across the Twin Cities. Overall, larceny, as we track it, is actually down this year over last year, but what we're seeing is increased number of organized criminal rings,” Minnesota BCA Superintendent Drew Evans says.
Evans says so far the cases in Minnesota have been relatively calm and collected, not frantic and violent like some cases that have happened in other states, but he says law enforcement officials are still concerned about the organized nature of these crimes, which is why multiple agencies are now working together to stop them.
"Organized criminal retail theft will not be tolerated,” Evans says.
Investigators are also planning to release pictures and surveillance video soon.
They are hoping to identify everyone who was involved in these recent thefts so they can file felony theft charges as soon as possible.