A Minneapolis whom police say is well known for shoplifting steaks and laundry detergent from a Southwest Minneapolis grocery store has been charged with calling in a bomb threat to the store and then burglarizing the store minutes later.
Michael Northern, 48, is charged with two felonies: third-degree burglary, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and making a bomb threat, which has a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $3,000 fine.
Northern remains in the Hennepin County Jail on a $100,000 bond. He is also being held on 11 outstanding warrants charging him with crimes including check forgery, trespassing, damage to property, theft, tampering with a motor vehicle and disorderly conduct.
According to the criminal complaint, signed by Minneapolis Police Department Sgt. Wally Krueger, police were called to the just after 2 p.m. Aug. 11 on a report of a bomb threat.
A store employee told officers that a man had called the store and said, “I have a bomb planted in your store. You have two and a half hours to get everyone out,” according to the complaint.
The store manager evacuated the store immediately after the phone call, and the bomb squad was called and checked the building.
Investigators learned that the bomb threat phone call originated at a gas station a few blocks away from the grocery store. An employee there told police that a man later identified as Northern had come into the store and asked for the Cub Foods phone number. When the employee provided it, Northern went to a pay phone and made a call.
Surveillance video from the gas station showed Northern approaching the counter, having a brief conversation with the clerk, then walking to the pay phone and placing a call. Northern then left the store and walked south toward Cub Foods.
Police say they recognized Northern as a “prolific thief” who regularly steals steaks and laundry detergent from the same Cub Foods store. Northern was ordered to leave the store on May 20 and not return.
Officers then reviewed surveillance video from Cub, which showed Northern entering the store several minutes after the bomb threat was called in. Northern grabbed a shopping cart, then piled a number of steaks “without regard for size or price” into the cart and headed for the bakery counter, where he made a small purchase, according to the complaint.
Northern then went to a different aisle, stuffed the steaks into the waistband of his jeans, then went to the laundry detergent aisle and put three or four bottles of Tide into the shopping cart, the complaint charges. He then walked past the registers and left the store without paying for the items.
An employee who had been watching Northern followed him into the parking lot and asked him for a receipt, at which point Northern shoved the cart toward the employee, jumped into a car with a pizza delivery sign on it and left with the driver. Cub employees recovered the bottles of Tide, but Northern got away with the steaks, according to the complaint.
Police next went to the pizza delivery company and spoke to the manager, who identified the driver of the suspect car as an employee. Officers spoke to that man, who said Northern had jumped into his car, said his son had been in an accident and asked for a ride to the area of 38th Street and Nicollet Avenue.
Police tracked down Northern and arrested him shortly afterward.
An omnibus hearing in Northern’s case is scheduled Sept. 12 in Hennepin County District Court.