Official charges in connection with approximately 50 Barnes County burglaries have been filed against two Valley City residents and two Minnesota residents by the Barnes County Sheriffs Department, said Sheriff Randy McClaflin.
On Thursday District Court Judge Jay A. Schmitz ordered the arrest of Barnes County residents April Robyn Kapaun, 25, and Steven Lee Hovland, 38; and Minnesota residents Broc Allen Buytaert, 32; and Betsy Lee Runkle, 31.
Schmitz’s orders said there there was sufficient probable cause for the arrest of all four suspects.
Deputy Don Fiebiger, the investigating officer, said Friday most of the burglaries took place in September, with one happening Aug. 31.
Burglaries took place at one Valley City business and a
number of vacant and occupied farmsteads in northern, southern and western Barnes County.
Over the past two months, Fiebiger recovered about $5,000 worth of property stolen in the burglaries in Moorhead, and about $3,000 worth of stolen items in Rochester, Minn. In addition, he said, some property was also recovered from a storage locker in Valley· City.
Fiebiger said the total worth of stolen items is likely many thousands more than the value of recovered items, adding most items taken to Rochester were pawned and sold. “All pawning took place in Minnesota.”
Recovered items being held by the sheriffs department include horse saddles, jewelry, antique pocket watches and odds and ends.
McClaflin said Buytaert and Runkle were both arrested and charged and bonded out in court in Minnesota for receiving property stolen in Barnes County.
Arrests on the burglary charges for all four suspects had not yet been accomplished Friday, McClaflin said.
Fiebiger said both Buytaert and Runkle have lived in Valley City in the past.
Along with more valuable items, radiators and scrap metal stolen at farmsteads “ended up being dumped for scrap metal in St. Charles, Minn.,” Fiebiger said.
The burglary victims have been contacted and told their property has been recovered, but will not be returned as long as they are considered evidence. The items will be returned to owners after court action is completed.
Fiebiger said the thieves “hit a few places, loaded up, went to the cities, got rid of it and went back for more.”
Fiebiger said a number of the stolen items have great sentimental value with owners, and he expects they will be thrilled with the recovery. “It’s good for the people to get the property back. The department has put in a lot of time during the last couple of months (with investigations and recovery) and it has paid off.”