An estimated $70,000 in cell phones and cell phone accessories were stolen from the Cloquet AT&T store early Monday morning, according to the Cloquet Police Department.
The burglary was reported by store staff at 8 a.m. on Labor Day, but police estimate it happened closer to 2 a.m. that day. The burglar gained access to the storage area of the cell phone store by first breaking into the vacant Papa John's next door, then cutting through the wall to get to the AT&T store on the other side. Both stores are on Highway 33 in front of Walmart in Cloquet.
Cloquet Police Chief Wade Lamirande said the person who broke through the wall had "everything they needed" to break through the wall, which was made of drywall.
Police say they have a video of the suspect but not a lot of details. According to Cloquet Detective Darrin Berg, the burglar was a white male wearing a dark-colored jacket or sweatshirt with gray sweatpants. He was wearing a dark-colored baseball cap.
"This was an extensive burglary," Berg said, adding that about 250 cell phones, accessories, SIM cards and an iPad were stolen from a locked cabinet in the store's back room. "There were Motorola smart phones, iPhones, Samsungs and more. We are working with AT&T to identify the phones."
The veteran police detective said this was the largest break-in in terms of dollar amount he's seen in Cloquet in recent years. However, he noted that it is one of several burglaries that have happened in the area recently, including copper thefts last month and two other break-ins this week, one at Pine Valley Covenant Church and one at Cloquet Dental in Pine Tree Plaza. In both those cases, the person or people gained access by breaking a window. An undisclosed amount of cash was stolen from the church, along with some equipment.
Berg said the AT&T break-in appeared to be well-planned.
"I think it was not just a whim, based on the scene," he said, noting that the person must have had the necessary tools to both break in the back door of the vacant store and then get through the wall into the cell phone retail store.
Anyone with information on these break-ins is asked to call the Cloquet Police Department at (218) 879-1247.