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Gang member sentenced in Woodbury burglary case

A gang member who admitted to stealing the window out of a vehicle in Woodbury was convicted and sentenced on a burglary charge this month.

Yia Chang, 19, was sentenced Feb. 13 to 180 days in jail for his role in the case. The sentence also calls for him to spend five years on probation.

Chang and another man, Cottage Grove resident Chee Yang - both confessed members of the True Blood Asian 22 street gang - were arrested in connection with a 2010 Woodbury burglary. Yang, who pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary in December, is set to be sentenced Monday, March 5, in Washington County District Court.

Police were called Nov. 17, 2010, to a house in the 9000 block of Highview Lane by a resident who said his vehicle and an attached garage had been entered. Numerous items, including a GPS system and a smart phone, were reported stolen.

Investigation of the scene indicated someone smashed the window of a vehicle parked outside the house. Someone then used a garage door opener left inside the vehicle to gain access to the garage, where another cell phone was taken from a vehicle parked inside.

Woodbury investigators turned to Yang after receiving information that he had pawned the stolen GPS the same day in St. Paul. Police also learned Yang was under investigation by Cottage Grove and Prior Lake police for thefts in other parts of the Twin Cities.

Investigators from Woodbury visited Yang's parents' house in Cottage Grove, where he agreed to an interview about the Highview Lane theft. After initially denying involvement, he later allegedly admitted to driving a car while an acquaintance stole items from cars parked in the neighborhood.

The complaint states Yang admitted to being a member of the True Blood Asian 22 street gang during the interview and showed investigators his gang tattoos.

Chang, also a True Blood gang member, also named Yang as the getaway driver for street thefts. Chang said Yang pumped gas at a Woodbury service station with a stolen credit card taken in the Highview Lane break-in.

Terms of probation called for in the sentence require Chang to pay an $85 fine, and to abstain from gang activity - and contact with gang members.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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