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Ping from AirPods leads detectives to suspect in string of Twin Cities home burglaries

A Woodbury homeowner whose AirPods were stolen told police she used the “Find My” app on her Apple device to ping, or track, the earbuds to the area of 10th Street South in Minneapolis. Police went there and arrested a man later in the day, according to Tuesday’s criminal complaint.

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ST. PAUL -- A ping from a stolen pair of Apple AirPods led police to a man who burglarized five homes in Woodbury and Cottage Grove last week, according to criminal charges.

Jaleel Francis Wah, 24, of Plymouth, was charged in Washington County District Court this week with five counts of aiding and abetting first-degree burglary and one count of attempted burglary in connection with the crime spree in the early morning hours of June 3.

Cottage Grove and Woodbury police responded to a string of burglaries in which two males entered or attempted to enter several homes.

A Woodbury homeowner whose AirPods were stolen told police she used the “Find My” app on her Apple device to ping, or track, the earbuds to the area of 10th Street South in Minneapolis. Police went there and arrested Wah later in the day, according to Tuesday’s criminal complaint.

Wah remained at the Washington County jail on Thursday in lieu of $200,000 bail.

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In the cases that resulted in charges, the homeowners were at home when the burglaries occurred and Wah and the other suspect were captured on video from numerous cameras, the complaint states.

Police said Thursday they have yet to identify the second suspect.

Cottage Grove burglaries

Surveillance footage at one Cottage Grove home shows a male entering a home around 4:45 a.m. A dresser drawer and doors to cars in an attached garage were opened.

Another homeowner told officers that a Ring doorbell video shows a male running down the street.

A third homeowner said he found the sliding glass door to his deck open and his daughter’s Apple Watch missing. Several items from inside the house were scattered on the deck.

A fourth homeowner said he came downstairs around 6:45 a.m. and saw the sliding glass door to his deck open. His wife then noticed her laptop computer was missing. Other items, including cash, were also gone.

Several surveillance videos from the victims and their neighbors show the two suspects at or around the homes. One of the suspects was wearing a black sweatshirt with the word “Pink!” printed on it, according to charges.

Woodbury burglaries

At one Woodbury home, a cement block from a retaining wall was thrown through a window and two iPads, three laptops, a set of car keys and a pair of Apple AirPods were stolen. The garage service door was also forced open and a purse valued at $3,000 was stolen from a car.

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A second homeowner reported someone had gone into their attached garage and ransacked two purses, making off with cash, gift cards, a driver’s license and other items. The homeowner also discovered a $763 charge on a missing credit card.

Another homeowner reported a man tried to enter his house through the front and back doors. He confronted the man, who ran through the backyard.

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Jaleel Francis Wah
Courtesy / Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Surveillance video from throughout the neighborhood showed the same two suspects, with one in the same black sweatshirt.

Guided by the AirPods, a Woodbury detective and sergeant went to the area the earbuds pinpointed and saw a car similar to the suspect’s car shown in neighborhood surveillance video. They looked inside and saw items consistent with those stolen during the burglaries, according to the complaint.

Around 4 p.m., police saw Wah and a woman with him approach the car. Wah, wearing the black sweatshirt shown in the video, was arrested. He was taken to the Woodbury police station, where officers found the stolen Apple Watch in the squad car.

In an interview with detectives, Wah admitted to entering some of the houses, the complaint states.

Court records show that in February 2019 Wah was convicted of five counts of first-degree burglary and one count of theft, all stemming from separate cases in the west metro in 2018. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison.

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
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