The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 26, 2013

Stolen phone info leads police to possible salon robbery suspect

By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Investigators are working on a lead that could link a December Mankato salon robbery to a suspect in Minneapolis.

Detectives would only say the Dec. 18 robbery at the Luxe Salon on North Riverfront Drive remained under investigation last week. But an affidavit requesting a search warrant said a cell phone stolen that night has been traced to a man in Minneapolis.

The document also reveals more information about what happened to the two victims at the salon, one employee and one customer, the night of the robbery.

The two women told police officers two black males entered the business at about 7:45 p.m. One was holding a silver handgun with a square barrel and the other implied he was holding a gun under his clothing.

One woman was taken to another room in the salon. She told officers she heard the two suspects speaking to each other in a language that wasn’t English. The men left after stealing cash, a camera, a cell phone from each victim and other items.

Service for both of the phones was provided by Sprint, so investigators contacted the company and asked an employee to “ping” the phones so they could find their location. They were told the phones had been turned off the night of the robbery.

A Mankato detective called Sprint again the following day and asked to have the phones pinged again. This time he was told that one of the phones was in Brooklyn Park.

That same day another detective was contacted by the victim who owns the other phone. She said a friend, not knowing her phone had been stolen, called her on Dec. 19 and an unknown male answered the phone. The detective was able to have that phone tracked to a one-block area in Minneapolis.

Surveillance video at an apartment complex on that block was checked Jan. 2 and investigators were able to identify people who were entering or leaving the building at the same time as the stolen phone. One of those people was a man who investigators already knew had a connection to Mankato.

Detectives also checked phone numbers that had been dialed on that stolen phone after it was taken. One of those numbers was used by the same man while he was reporting a hit-and-run in Minneapolis on Oct. 6. By checking the report for that incident, the detectives also learned the man listed his address as the same apartment complex where he was seen on surveillance video.

Investigators are now checking information from the man’s cell phone for any other possible evidence, including whether the phone was in the area of the salon the night of the robbery. No charges had been filed as of Friday. Investigators would not say last week whether anyone had been arrested in connection to the robbery.