Fraud suspect wasn’t as fleet of foot as his buddy

A 43-year-old Minneapolis man suspected of credit card fraud wasn’t as fortunate as his buddy.

The man was arrested in the Mall of America parking ramp after attempting to flee on foot from a police officer, although his apparent accomplice eluded arrest.

The suspect and his companion were shopping at the Bloomington mall’s Famous Footwear store during the afternoon of Feb. 26. A store manager reported that the duo’s purchase was suspicious, as one of the men attempted unsuccessfully to swipe a Discover credit card several times using a self-service credit card kiosk.

When that card wouldn’t work the duo tried to use a different card. A store clerk asked to try one of the cards, but the duo declined to hand the card over, raising the store manager’s suspicion, according to Bloomington Police Cmdr. Kim Clauson.

The duo was able to successfully complete their purchase of shoes, backpacks and shoe deodorizers using a credit card. When the duo left the store, the manager reported the transaction to the police and provided a description of the men, Clauson noted.

An officer working at the mall spotted two men matching the description in the mall’s west parking ramp. The duo ran when approached by the officer, dropping their bags of merchandise as they headed in separate directions. The officer followed one of the men, who discarded credit cards and driver’s licenses that were not in his name. He was eventually shot with a Taser gun on a stairwell, although he attempted to continue running after he was shot. He fell, however, ending the pursuit, Clauson explained.

The suspect was arrested and booked on suspicion of financial transaction card fraud, possession of stolen property, fleeing a police officer and possession of a controlled substance. A search of the suspect following his arrest turned up suspected methamphetamine, Clauson said.

The duo had made purchases from at least three other mall stores prior to being confronted in the parking lot. A credit card the suspect discarded had been reported stolen, along with a wallet, the previous day, although the owner did not know when or how the wallet disappeared, Clauson noted.

Wrong room

Two women reported being robbed at a Bloomington motel by a man who determined he was in the wrong room.

Police officers were dispatched to La Quinta Inn, 7815 Nicollet Ave., at approximately 2:45 a.m. Feb. 25 for a robbery report. A 26-year-old Richfield woman and a 27-year-old Bloomington woman reported that they were robbed at approximately 1:30 a.m., Clauson said.

The women were upset when interviewed by police officers and said that they were staying the night at the hotel because they both live with parents and wanted to spend a night away from their homes. The Richfield woman had left the room to meet her mother in the motel lobby and give her a set of keys. She left the motel room door propped open while she was gone, according to Clauson.

The Bloomington woman was in bed and heard a person come into the room and enter the bathroom. She assumed it was her friend, but realized it was someone else when her friend returned to the room. A black man in his 20s or 30s, wearing a dark sweatshirt and blue jeans, emerged from the bathroom, demanding money. He searched the women’s purses, opened furniture drawers and ordered the woman to take off their clothes.

They complied, and the man demanded money again. The women offered credit cards, which he took. He returned to the bathroom, apparently to make a phone call, then emerged again, claiming he must have the wrong room. He left with a credit card and debit card belonging to the women, Clauson explained.

Police officers responding to the report did not find a man matching the perpetrator’s description, and there was no indication that anyone attempted to use the women’s credit or debit card, Clauson noted.

Unusual fraud

A 41-year-old Minneapolis woman was arrested at Mall of America, accused of old-fashioned forgery.

The suspect was purchasing a handbag and wallet from the mall’s Michael Kors store Feb. 26 when she presented two traveler’s checks for the purchase. The checks, valued at $100 and $500, had not been properly signed prior to the suspect producing them from her purse, which the store’s manager considered suspicious, Clauson said.

The traveler’s checks were accepted for the purchase, but the store reported the woman to the police. She was found inside the mall that afternoon and was arrested on suspicion of forgery. A search of her purse turned up several checks totaling $9,650, with the same check number on them, according to Clauson.

The woman said she had purchased them from a person she only knew by first name, and said she had bought them at a significant discount from their face value, Clauson noted.

Illegal surveillance

A 26-year-old man who is suspected of spying on women in Target fitting rooms was arrested five days after an incident in Bloomington.

A 37-year-old Minneapolis woman was with her 17-year-old daughter at the Bloomington Target store on Feb. 19. The woman’s daughter was trying on swimsuits in the fitting room while the woman was waiting in the fitting room area. A man entered the fitting room area with a pair of pants and went to a fitting room next to where the woman’s daughter was, Clauson said.

The man had not emerged several minutes after he entered the fitting room. The woman went to check on her daughter, and upon entering the fitting room noticed a cell phone atop the dividing wall, pointed down at her daughter. The woman pounded on the man’s fitting room door, asking what he was doing. The man emerged and quickly fled the area. The woman followed him, however, yelling to store employees to stop the man as he was fleeing the store. Other shoppers joined the woman in following the suspect into the parking lot, Clauson explained.

The man drove off in a red Nissan truck, and one of the witnesses recorded his license plate, she noted.

An investigator determined the vehicle was registered to a St. Cloud resident. In speaking with the vehicle’s owner, the investigator learned that the man’s son was using the truck and lived in the Twin Cities. He provided a Richfield address where he thought his son was staying. On Feb. 24, the investigator went looking for the suspect in Richfield, and before he arrived at the address he saw the suspect driving a red Nissan truck in the vicinity. The man driving the vehicle matched the man seen fleeing the store in Target surveillance video, according to Clauson.

The investigator stopped the man’s vehicle and arrested him on suspicion of interfering with a minor’s privacy.

The suspect also matched the description of a man reported to have committed similar acts at the Richfield Target store in September 2016 and on Jan. 20, Clauson noted.