Kenyon Muni

A break-in at the Kenyon Muni on May 29 has city leaders trying to make upgrades to the existing security system to deter similar incidents from happening in the future. (File photo/

An early morning break-in last month at the Kenyon Muni has triggered a discussion among city leaders about upgrades to the building’s security system.

Kenyon Muni Manager Matt Bartel requested the Kenyon City Council approve a $16.50 addition to the monthly security system bill, on top of a $540 installation fee for cellular monitoring after a suspect was seen on camera footage cutting the Muni’s phone and internet lines, disconnecting the security system.

Prior to the break in, Bartel assumed he would receive some sort of a notification if the phone/internet lines were cut. After the fact, the security company told Bartel that wasn’t the current plan the Muni had. After further investigation, it was discovered the Muni got lost in the shuffle of other city building upgrades to cellular monitoring, which triggers the alarm regardless of whether the lines are cut.

According to security camera footage from the Muni and nearby businesses, Bartel said the suspect was first seen on tape at 3:45 a.m. May 29 walking through the alley and taking a look around at the surroundings. He came back through the alley at 4:07 a.m. and was seen behind the NAPA Auto Parts building at 4:09 a.m. That same suspect allegedly came back at 4:40 a.m. and grabbed a pallet from behind NAPA.

The suspect reportedly used the pallet as a ladder to climb up onto the side of the building and cut the phone and internet lines. The individual then took a pry bar/flat iron to the east side of the building, sheltered by the taco wagon food truck at the time, and popped the window open, damaging the window’s hardware, Bartel said.

After pulling the window open, the suspect disappeared and returned later at 6:30 a.m. In broad daylight, the suspect reportedly entered the Muni through the open window and used a pry bar to bust open all three cash drawers on the pulltab machines, leaving with just under $4,000 in cash from the three drawers. Bartel reported that the suspect spent just under 4 minutes inside of the building.

Bartel said the Muni has filed an insurance claim with its insurer, the League of Minnesota Cities, for damages like the broken hardware on the window, a damaged neon sign and the cost of repairing the phone and internet lines. Realistically, Bartel said it could have been much worse. The pulltab machines, Bartel said, are insured under the local Snowdrifters Club.

As of June 8, there have been no other reports of break-ins in the city, through Bartel said the suspect was scoping out NAPA’s wiring that same morning.

Council member Dan Rechtzigel suspected the individual must have known what they were doing, because most people’s first instinct wouldn’t be to go through the cash doors but instead break the glass. The Kenyon Police Department is investigating the theft.

Mayor Doug Henke expressed his frustration over what he said was the lack of communication from the security company, and thought the company should have suggested the upgrade to the cellular monitoring prior to the incident.

“My issue is with that alarm company, we put our confidence in them, they should be bringing forth different ideas,” Henke said during the meeting.

Henke suggested it might be time to look into other security companies before the upgrade. Bartel and City Administrator Mark Vahlsing noted upgrades began prior to the meeting to prevent additional thefts.

Council member Mary Bailey said a conversation with the existing security company about what the city’s expectations are should also be considered.

Instead of putting a hold on the upgrades, Rechtzigel recommended moving forward with the current security company and getting the necessary upgrades before looking at other options down the road. Rechtzigel said that way any new company could be up and running the same day ties are severed with the current company, if it comes to that decision.

Since all city buildings use the same security system, Council member Tom Gard said it would be nice to keep all buildings with the same vendor. Rechtzigel suggested they could look at quotes for the whole city campus, instead of just the Muni.

Reach reporter Michelle Vlasak at 507-333-3128 or follow her on Twitter @apgmichelle. ©Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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