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Authorities investigate possible burglary, arson

BEMIDJI — A couple lost a source of income and two others lost virtually all of their belongings Sunday after burglars allegedly torched a home on the north side of Big Lake.

Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said the renters of the home, at 6876 Maple Beach Court NE, were not present at the time of the burglary or the suspected arson that followed. The homeowners live nearby and act as landlords for the rambler-style home.

Beltrami County deputies, Leech Lake Tribal Police and the Cass Lake Fire Department received a report of a house fire at 1:46 p.m. Sunday, according to a press release issued Tuesday afternoon.

Hodapp said the relatively remote location of the home, and the absence of its occupants, ensured its total destruction. The fire burned out of control until a neighbor saw flames from a distance and called 911. Authorities believe the home was set ablaze to cover up evidence left during the burglary, but the release did not state the value or specify the items taken from the house, which Hodapp said was worth at least $100,000.

Evidence of the use of an accelerant was found in the home, Hodapp said. Police are looking for an older model brown or tan sedan with a darker brown door and loud exhaust system that was seen in the area, according to the release.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office at (218) 333-9111. Those who wish to remain anonymous you may contact crime stoppers at (800) 222-8477 or text TIP674 “plus the tip” to 274637.

Calling the home “totaled,” Hodapp said he wasn’t sure if the renters had insurance, but stressed the importance of insuring one’s personal property.

“Renter’s insurance is so cheap,” he said. “And now, with your smartphone, you can take a video of everything you own and save that file.”

Bemidji Staff Reporter John Hageman contributed to this report.

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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