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Byron and Kasson car thefts believed to be caused by repeat offenders

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Cars parked on a Byron residential street

BYRON, Minn. (KTTC) - The Olmsted County Sheriff's office is reporting recent rash of car thefts. Since May 1st, more than 10 thefts have been reported in the county. There are similar reports in Kasson over in Dodge County.

A high-speed chase this weekend in Zumbrota ended with four teens being taken into custody, including a 15-year-old from Byron. They were in custody just temporarily and law enforcement believes that is why the thefts are still happening.

"These kids stealing cars now have a tendency to flee from law enforcement like the most recent case. They're going to kill somebody one day or they're going to kill themselves," said Captain Scott Behrns of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office. "That's a sad day and what I don't want to see happen."

The string of car thefts began at the beginning of the summer when school let out. The first of which happened just two blocks from the Kasson Police Department.

"We believe it's the same group," said Chief Josh Hanson from the Kasson Police Department. "We've made some arrests and have some suspects where we don't have any charges yet."

"But we're not having a lot of luck because they're getting out and continuing this behavior," Behrns said.

They are concerned because the Olmsted County Juvenile Detention Center is closed. Guidelines must be met for the kids to be held at the the backup site in Dakota County.

"Some of those guidelines do not allow those kids to be held there," Behrns said. "Why? I don't know. That's not a decision made by local law enforcement."

The suspects are still out in the community.

"They need to be held accountable and have some punishment. They also need to understand and learn from this," the captain said. "They have a long life ahead of them. They don't want to live in the criminal justice system their entire lives. Maybe they do. If they do, then they're on the right path."

Over in Kasson, Chief Hanson says he has not seen any new car thefts in the past couple weeks.

Many of the stolen vehicles were left unlocked or had keys in them. Residents are being asked to lock their vehicles at night and removed or hide anything of value.

The community is also asked to report any suspicious behavior. One tip led to the recovery of a vehicle in Zumbrota.

Alex Tejada

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