2 charged in rash of Minnesota church burglaries

CAMBRIDGE, Minn. (KARE) Public bragging led deputies in Isanti County to a pair of men now charged in a series of burglaries that targeted churches.

Investigator say both Danny Carl Croon Jr. and Robert William Noonan have confessed to the three burglaries, which took place sometime late the night of June 20 and the morning of June 21. Both are charged with burglary, damage to property and theft of a motor vehicle.

Criminal complaints filed against the two detail how deputies were dispatched to Long Lake Lutheran Church in Isanti jjust before 8 a.m. the morning of June 21. Squads arrived and found several windows broken out, multiple doors damaged and the church office ransacked. The deputies were told that a safe containing $75, a check for $10,000, and credit and gift cards had been stolen. The suspects ate macaroni and cheese from the church kitchen, drank communion wine, then stole the church van and did donuts on the softball field before driving the vehicle through a fence.

The scene was processed, with detectives collection fingerprints and DNA swabs.

During the course of the investigation detectives learned that Croon had been bragging to friends about breaking into area churches and stealing safes and other items. They also confirmed that Croon's girlfriend had used a gift card stolen from Long Lake Lutheran at the local Starbucks.

Authorities picked up Croon and during an interview he told them that he, Noonan and another man had been drinking after playing softball when they drove to Long Lake Lutheran, grabbed some baseball bats from the old part of the church and then used them to break windows and gain entry into the new church. Croon allegedly admitted that they went to the kitchen, made macaroni and cheese and drank wine, then stole a laundry list of items from the safe to a laptop computer and two guitars.

Deputies also interviewed Noonan, who reportedly admitted his involvement as well. Noonan told investigators the burglary spree actually started at New Beginnings Church in Cambridge, then a second church in East Bethel. It was at that point the men decided to hit Long Lake Lutheran as well. Noonan said Croon was the driving forced behind the crime spree.

Noonan gave deputies permission to search his trunk, where they found many of the stolen items.