Police have arrested two suspects in a burglary of Masjid Al-Ihsan, a mosque in St. Paul. Police say the suspects stole a safe containing $4,000 in cash, a van, and other items. Credit: Jaida Grey Eagle | Sahan Journal

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Police in Anoka County and St. Paul have arrested two suspects in last month’s burglary of the St. Paul mosque Masjid Al-Ihsan.

Jeremy Glass was arrested in Anoka County on March 1 for a separate case, where he allegedly stole laptops at a Walmart. St. Paul police arrested Christopher Hughes two days later, according to criminal complaints filed in Ramsey County District Court. Glass, 32, St. Paul, and Hughes, 27, St. Paul, are each charged with second-degree burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, and attempted theft. 

They allegedly broke into Masjid Al-Ihsan using a key and stole a safe containing $4,000 in cash, wallets, and a checkbook shortly after midnight on February 27. The charges did not indicate why the suspects chose the mosque or specify whether they were connected to anyone there.

Mosque leaders found the safe was missing the morning after the incident. Reviewing the security footage, they saw two men breaking into the mosque through the main entrance. Mosque leaders told Sahan Journal that congregants felt unsafe after the incident, especially since other mosques in Minnesota have been targeted in a variety of incidents.  

Mohamed Mursal, an imam at Masjid Al-Ihsan, told Sahan Journal that the mosque hired a nighttime security guard and plans to update security equipment. He’s concerned this won’t be the last time they’ll face criminal activity.

“We are in better shape now that they got the criminals, but it’s not the ending,” of the mosque being targeted by vandals, Mohamed said. “We informed the community to stay vigilant and know who’s around.”

According to the charges: Hughes told St. Paul police that Glass picked him up in a black Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and asked Hughes if he would help him with a maintenance job at the mosque. Hughes said Glass went through cars parked outside the mosque the day before and found the keys to the main entrance. 

Once they broke in, Glass unsuccessfully tried to use the mosque’s credit card machine to transfer nearly $14,000 out of the mosque’s bank account. Security camera footage from the mosque allegedly showed the suspects carrying a safe, plastic bag, and other items out the main entrance. 

Glass declined to speak to police.

Hughes also told police that he helped steal the safe because Glass was threatening him. Hughes carried out bags containing cologne, a Toyota Sienna key fob, and other items. Glass told Hughes they were taking the items because the mosque “owed him money,” the complaint said.

They fled in the pickup truck. Police later learned that they also used a key fob to take a Toyota Sienna van parked at the mosque. Glass told Hughes the van belonged to someone who owed him, the charges said.

Mohamed told Sahan Journal they’re checking to make sure cars aren’t parked at the mosque after closing time.

After the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Minnesota and Sahan Journal shared images and video from the incident, police received an anonymous tip from someone who grew up with Glass and Hughes, identifying them as the suspects, the complaint said. Another tipster recognized Glass from the jacket he was wearing. 

Glass has several pending felony cases for theft, receiving stolen property, and drug possession. He has been convicted of first-degree aggravated robbery, driving while intoxicated, and drug possession. Hughes’ felony convictions include receiving stolen property, auto theft, and drug possession.

Hibah Ansari is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.