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8 Arrested After Handbag Heist, 20-Mile Police Pursuit

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It sounds like something out of the movies, but it happened here in the Twin Cities on Wednesday.

Eight Chicago-area men are in jail after what officers say was an elaborate handbag heist at a Louis Vuitton store in Edina.

It all ended as dramatically as it began. Edina, Bloomington, Woodbury and State Troopers followed the van speeding away from the Galleria. After a 20-mile pursuit, as the van slowed to exit 494 in Woodbury, a Bloomington officer pulled a PIT maneuver, bringing the van to a stop.

The eight men inside the van are now under arrest in Hennepin County.

Police believe the heist was planned, and it was calculated.

Some Louis Vuitton bags are $1,000 or more, and they're highly sought after.

At 10:09 a.m. Wednesday, an employee at the Louis Vuitton store in Edina reported that a group of people entered the store, stole some merchandise and then fled.

"They all came in at once and overwhelmed the store clerk, and she did the right thing," Edina Police Lt. Brian Tholen said.

Police say after the employee went to the back of the store, the men stole $20,000 worth of bags. They loaded the bags into a van, but someone in the parking lot was watching.

"A citizen called and said, 'This van is leaving,' and, 'I believe something suspicious happened,' and then he followed the van, which we don't recommend," Tholen said.

After the police chase ended on a Highway 494 exit, officers with guns drawn arrested the eight men inside the van.

"A very large amount was taken this morning," Tholen said. "We do believe from our initial investigation, this is part of a much larger theft ring and possibly even nationwide."

Police believe the theft was timed and calculated, but officers celebrated that it was ultimately unsuccessful.

"If we're at the right place at the right time, things fall together nicely," Tholen said.

No one was hurt in the theft or car chase.

Officers say the suspects range in age from 21 to 38 and will likely be charged Thursday.

Police now have a case worker trying to connect the dots to see if this part of a large high-end theft ring.

Edina Police say at some point during the pursuit, it seems someone was throwing jewelry out the window. They are not sure if that jewelry was also stolen.

Police are trying to figure that out because they again think this may be part of something bigger.

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