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Newspaper Carrier Linked To SF Burglaries

January 9, 2012, 5:57 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Newspaper Carrier Linked To SF Burglaries
Patrick Michael VanWagner

SIOUX FALLS, SD - Sioux Falls Police say a newspaper carrier is to blame for home burglaries over the holidays.

29-year-old Patrick Michael VanWagner has been arrested for one crime. They believe VanWagner targeted homeowners who suspended their newspaper subscriptions during vacations. So far, he is charged with taking jewelry and a coin collection worth $2,300. Police say he confessed to more burglaries and more charges could follow.

It's the kind of quiet neighborhood where you know when someone is out of place. Sioux Falls police believe while families here were on a relaxing holiday vacation, their paper carrier was rummaging through their homes.

"Some stolen goods were found in pawn shops. They had been pawned already. That gave a particular name," Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said.

And that led to Michael VanWagner's arrest. Police say a search of his home turned up other stolen items. He is charged with burglary and possession of stolen property. So far, he has only been connected to a break-in at one home on the 5800 Block of West Bristol Drive where police say he forced open a locked garage door, went inside, took jewelry and rare coins worth $2,300.

Police don't believe this was a singular crime confined to just one home. They have evidence to prove possibly up to nine other homes were hit by VanWagner.

"We believe that there's probably other victims out there that either don't know if they're out of town, or that we haven't been able to locate yet," Clemens said.

The homeowner in this case declined an on-camera interview, but expects to get some of the stolen items back. He also knows other neighbors nearby who were targeted too, all because they put their name on a newspaper vacation list and the information fell into the wrong hands.

"He had seen that information and was using the information to burglarize homes while they were on vacation," Clemens said.

Police are asking anyone who lives in the area that may have been hit to contact them.

The Argus Leader website confirms VanWagner was an independent contractor and says his contract has since been terminated.

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