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Published June 21 2012

UPDATED: Fargo police bust ‘substantial’ theft ring involving 'hundreds' of stolen items

FARGO – Police busted a “substantial” theft ring here, arresting two people and recovering hundreds of reportedly stolen items, including tools, jewelry and electronics, Lt. Joel Vettel said Thursday.

Two search warrants executed Tuesday and Wednesday yielded hundreds of pieces of property worth tens of thousands of dollars that police believe are related to more than a dozen burglaries in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Vettel said.

“And we’re still working through a number of cases trying to match up property with victims,” he said. “We feel … this thing has been going on for months.”

The searches led to two arrests: Jeremy Daniel Tibiatowski, 33, and Jason Scott Leines, 35, were taken into custody at their respective homes in the 5800 block of 14th Street South and 800 block of Oak Street, Vettel said.

Vettel said good police work and some fortunate leads allowed investigators to link a number of burglaries and thefts from homes and construction sites.

“It’s been a rapidly changing investigation over the last week as new information came in,” he said.

Fargo police are working with other agencies to determine if the recovered items match theft reports in their jurisdictions.

“We feel strongly that they have been perpetrating crimes outside of the

F-M area, out into more of the rural areas of North Dakota, Minnesota,” Vettel said.

He said one of the difficulties in such cases is trying to match stolen items with their rightful owners. He promoted the Fargo Police Department’s “My Property” registration program, which allows people to create an online account and enter information about their property, including photos and serial numbers, to help police identify and recover stolen and lost items.

A link to My Property can be found on the department’s website at www.ci.fargo.nd.us/CityIn

fo/Departments/Police.

Forum archives and online records show Tibiatowski was convicted of aggravated robbery in Clay County for taking part with two others in the armed robbery of the Moorhead Travel Mart on Jan. 31, 1996. He was sentenced to 58 months.

That case eventually landed at the Minnesota Supreme Court after an appeals court agreed with Tibiatowski that a confession he gave several days after the robbery, while he was in juvenile detention, should have been suppressed because it was the product of a custodial interrogation in violation of his Miranda rights.

The Supreme Court reversed the appeals court and upheld the conviction.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528