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Walmart thinks burglar knew the way to $29,000

WOODBURY, Minn. -- A man arrested after a Woodbury police officer shot out his tires in St. Paul was being investigated for a burglary at Walmart where more than $29,000 went missing, according to court documents.

According to a Washington County search warrant, Noah Erickson was the target of an investigation surrounding an overnight burglary at the Woodbury Walmart on Christmas Day.

Erickson was arrested Jan. 22 in St. Paul, where Woodbury police were investigating him in connection with the burglary. During that incident, Erickson allegedly crashed his car into a Woodbury police SUV. The incident culminated in a Woodbury officer shooting out the tires of Erickson’s car before Tasing and arresting him.

He was later charged in Ramsey County with drug possession and fleeing police in a motor vehicle.

According to the warrant, Woodbury police had been looking for Erickson ever since he was identified by North St. Paul police as the person depicted in Walmart surveillance video from the burglary.

According to the warrant:

Police were called at 1:01 a.m. Dec. 25 to Walmart for a burglary alarm. Officers found unsecured doors and discovered a burglary had occurred.

A review of surveillance video revealed that at 12:47 a.m. a heavy-set man wearing a skull mask went to Walmart’s garden center and used a crowbar to pry open two empty cash registers there.

The burglar picked out merchandise there, put it in a backpack and continued on to a doorway to the main area of the store. The man pried open the doors, ran to the front of the store, where he accessed the cash office after prying open its door.

Once inside, the man grabbed eight register “reset” bags, each containing $200, along with another bag that contained $1,943.

After filling his backpack with those bags, the man grabbed $26,000 in cash from a loan bag sitting on a desk. He is seen placing that cash inside his jacket pocket.

An attempt to access the store’s vault room with a crowbar was unsuccessful.

Next, the man is seen running to the front of the store and picking out three cartons of cigarettes before dashing to the store’s back stockroom and taking an item from a bin. The man left through an emergency exit in the stockroom.

The total loss was $29,300, according to the warrant.

Walmart’s loss prevention supervisor suspected that the burglar’s familiarity with the building suggested he was a current or former employee.

Additional video surveillance shot at 8:25 p.m. Dec. 24 shows a man matching the burglar’s appearance at Walmart during its closing process. The man is seen propping open two emergency exit doors in the garden center and then leaving in a car.

Woodbury police disseminated photos of the suspect to area law enforcement. North St. Paul police identified the man as Erickson, who had a prior conviction for possession of stolen property, was currently on probation for different crimes and was once an employee of the Oak Park Heights Walmart, according to the warrant, which was issued to monitor a cellphone belonging to Erickson.

A Woodbury police investigation into the Dec. 25 Walmart burglary remains active, though Woodbury Public Safety spokeswoman Michelle Okada said formal charges are expected in the case.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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