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Emily Welker, Published December 09 2013

Fargo man arrested in burglaries of unattended homes; husband and wife considered persons of interest

FARGO – Three people, including a husband and wife, are in custody after Fargo police raids on their homes Friday led to the recovery of property stolen from at least seven homes left unattended by vacationers.

Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel said Daniel Joe Wieland, 36, of Fargo, faces burglary charges.

Christopher Lee Pinks, 39, and his wife, Marni Jo Pinks, 38, also both of Fargo, are being held on suspicion of felony possession of drug paraphernalia and are considered persons of interest in the burglaries.

Vettel said investigators were able to tie Wieland to a Thursday burglary at a home in the 1500 block of 23rd Avenue South. The value of the stolen items recovered so far is more than $100,000, he said.

Vettel said investigators are looking at an 18-month window over which they believe the burglaries were committed.

Police started issuing warnings about break-ins on vacationers’ homes last week as the case was developing, he said.

Police began noticing a string of burglaries at snowbirds’ homes last spring, although “we would not find out for weeks and months because people were not home,” Vettel said.

Similar break-ins began again this winter, he said, and with the help of the department’s computer tracking analyst, police identified a pattern.

“I’m confident we’ll tie Wieland to other burglaries,” said Vettel, who added that additional charges are possible. Investigators think the three are responsible for a double-digit number of break-ins at snowbirds’ homes, he said.

“Hopefully, it will greatly reduce these types of burglaries,” he said.

Vettel recommended that anyone heading on vacation take steps to make sure their driveway is cleared and that their home present a lived-in appearance.

He said more arrests are possible in the case.


Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541