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Complaint: Alleged Woodbury, Minn., burglar took cellphone video of break-in

A Woodbury teenager accused of documenting a burglary he committed on cellphone video made his first court appearance this month in Washington County District Court.

The suspect, Paul T. Harrington, was charged in March with two counts of second-degree burglary - felony charges that each carry maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Harrington was arrested Dec. 15, 2011, while Woodbury police were investigating the latest in a string of burglaries that had been occurring since August in an area around his residence.

According to a criminal complaint:

Police targeted Harrington after 17 residential burglaries and 19 reports of theft related to tampering with motor vehicles occurred between August and December of 2011.

The criminal activity occurred within a half-mile of Harrington's home, according to a criminal complaint filed against the 18 year old. Harrington was already on police investigators' radar due to prior run-ins with the law.

Burglaries included a Dec. 9 incident, where a Woodbury resident reported his home was burglarized. Currency, including loose change, was taken in the burglary. It appeared the burglar made entrance through an unlocked door in that case.

Prints were lifted from jars that had contained the change.

Four days later, police were called to another burglary - this one at a home on Birchwood Road. In that instance, $2,100 cash - mostly comprised of $100 and $20 bills - was taken, in addition to $250 in coins.

An iPod was also reported missing in that burglary. In that case, entry was made by forcing open a basement window.

The next day - Dec. 15 - police were called to an Oakwood Road residential burglary. Forced entry was also made at that location through garage service doors.

Police specifically began searching for Harrington. Officers located him walking near Woodbury Middle School.

He appeared nervous during questioning and allowed police to search him. Police turned up a wad of cash - comprised mostly of $100 bills - that Harrington said came from casino winnings.

Inspection of Harrington's shoe soles revealed a match with shoe prints taken at the Oakwood Road burglary.

Police also turned up an iPhone that Harrington said belonged to him.

Inspection of the phone revealed a video of a person committing a robbery.

In the video, someone wearing a black stocking cap is shown opening drawers and snatching coins, cash and jewelry with hands clad in black, fingerless gloves. The video also reveals a tattoo on the burglar's hand, which matches a tattoo on Harrington's hand.

The Birchwood Road burglary victim confirmed the video was taken inside her home; images on the video depicted personal belongings and photos of her children.

Harrington denied any involvement in the burglaries, but admitted the cellphone belonged to him and had not been used by anyone else.

Police on Dec. 16 executed a search warrant at Harrington's residence and turned up an iPod matching the one reported missing from the Birchwood Road burglary. Further investigation through the state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension developed fingerprint matches between Harrington and prints lifted from evidence at a burglarized home.

Harrington's next court appearance is June 7.

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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