Gracie Snow was once well-known and well-loved in Backus, but on Aug. 25 her home was robbed after five years of absence.
Snow once lived on the outskirts of Backus, but five years ago moved into Pine River for medical issues. Today she lives at Whispering Pines Good Samaritan Home. During her five years away, nobody ever touched a single item of property left behind in her home, until now.
During Snow’s five years of absence, her family has been unable to get around to cleaning out her house, but this year her daughter and granddaughters gathered to sell her unneeded property and dispose of what they deemed junk.
“We had come in to clean out the house and get everything done. It’s been sitting here closed up for five years with everything here, so we got into all the sheds and everywhere, pulled any antiques we found and decided we would take a trip to Brainerd,” said Snow’s granddaughter, Shannon Karnath.
They decided to sell all of the items in a lot going to the highest bidder, but on the Saturday before their auction was to be held, Karnath discovered something was wrong at the house.
“We scheduled to have a bunch of people come on Sunday and make a bid to take everything. We had gone in and basically set it out for them (the robbers),” she said.
She first noticed something was missing from one of the outbuildings, then noticed the front door was left ajar.
“I was devastated,” Karnath said. “It was hurtful to go through all that work. They stole from my mom and my grandma. That’s the part that hurts. It’s not right.”
Robbers appeared to have used a dolly found on the property to haul away dressers and heavy furniture. Luckily, all of the heirlooms and belongings the family would have kept for themselves were already out of the house.
At least one of the stolen items was one-of-a-kind and identifiable, though the victims did not want to share which items just in case the police could use that information to catch the robbers, though the items included a bureau, a coal foot warmer, dressers and lanterns.
Though they are unsure what drew the robbers’ attentions to this house, Karnath said they may have heard of the auction through word of mouth or may have seen the work being done to prepare for the auction. They did not leave the home unlocked a second time, though there wasn’t much left to steal.
As an incentive for people to give tips leading to an arrest, Karnath and family are offering a cash reward of an undisclosed amount for any information that would lead to the arrest of the person or persons responsible. So far they have only received one phone call, and names of the “usual suspects,” though nothing substantial.
“We have our usual suspects who have their MO of property crimes. You have your certain group that goes after electronics to make a quick buck, and you have your certain group that goes for the theft of antiques,” said responding Cass County Deputy Rodney Rychner.
Rychner said the thieves didn’t leave much behind for evidence, but the investigation is ongoing. He said the decision to offer a reward could lead to sources of valuable information.
“I don’t know for sure, I’ve never looked at statistics, but in my personal opinion it could definitely help because everybody’s looking for a quick buck,” Rychner said. “It could definitely help the chances of solving this particular burglary.”
Rychner said the area has no shortage of property crimes. One nearby business has been targeted at least three times in the past.
Rychner said there are steps that can be taken to prevent a robbery: initiate a neighborhood watch; keep a close eye on your belongings; use locks; and remove valuables from your property, especially during times of absence. He added that alarm systems are most effective in preventing break-ins.
“Locks only keep the honest people out. In my 13 years of doing this, alarm systems are the only things that have been almost 100 percent effective,” Rychner said.
Anyone who has information that could lead to the arrest of those responsible for this theft should call Karnath at 218-839-1234.