The thefts were adding up. A Ford Escape, gone in February. In March, a 2004 Nissan Maxima disappeared. As the weeks piled on, the thefts did, too. Vehicles, valuables, all gone.
After this week, though, it may all be over. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi charged one man, Mark Anthony Graham, with several counts of auto theft and damage -- all connected to an alleged string of St. Paul attacks.
The criminal complaints sprawl over the course of about six months. Starting as early as February, police say, Graham was allegedly stealing cars, most from St. Paul's parking ramps and apartment complexes. It started out slowly, it seems, but beginning in May, it ramped up.
From May 10 through the end of July, the complaint says, Graham engaged in 14 different incidents of stealing purses, wallets, clothes, and more. It all came together for the police on July 28, when they brought him in to talk about about one particular incident. While there, they say, he confessed to a whole lot more -- nearly everything they had on him.
From the way the police describe their interactions with Graham, it initially doesn't sound like Graham was planning to do anything nefarious, like selling the cars for money or drag racing with them along the vacant streets of Maplewood. In the first incident the county attorney cites from February, Graham admits to taking a 2010 Ford Escape from a parking ramp but says he was just taking it "to get back to the East Side."
Read further, though, and things get much worse. The complaints detail smashed windows and stolen cameras, guns, and clothing. That, plus the fact that police say Graham admitted to nearly all of the crimes (not to mention the stolen cars), doesn't make things look too promising in court. Obviously, however, we'll have to wait and see.
Graham's love for others' vehicles goes all the way back to the early 1990s (at least in Minnesota), when he pleaded guilty in court to stealing two cars. He actually escaped from custody the next year, and has since been found guilty of stealing cars a number of times over the past few decades.