The Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) is staffed by two sergeants and 12 detectives. CIU is divided into the Personal Crimes Team and the Property/Financial Crimes Team:
Personal Crimes Team
Sergeant James VanLith supervises the Personal Crimes Team which is divided into two groups, the adult violent crimes (AVC) group and the crimes against children (CAC) group. The members of the adult violent crimes group investigate homicides, rapes, assaults, robberies and other violence-based offenses. AVC also includes a detective specifically dedicated to investigating domestic violence based crimes and developing strategies to reduce domestic violence in our community. Members of the CAC group focus their attention on the investigations of alleged child abuse, child pornography and Internet child-luring cases.
The Personal Crimes Team works closely with other agencies like Cass County Social Services and the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center to assist victims of violent crimes. The Personal Crimes Team responds both proactively and reactively to crime by combining crime scene technical skills and computer forensics with old-fashioned police work, including neighborhood canvassing and interviewing, to solve crimes in our community.
The Personal Crimes Team also has a dedicated elder abuse detective who works solely on elder abuse cases.
Property Crimes Team
Sergeant Carlos Nestler leads the Property/Financial Crimes Team, which focuses on crimes such as burglary, vandalism, forgery, embezzlement, identity theft, and computer fraud crimes. The detectives on this team utilize a variety of both high-tech and traditional methods to investigate property-based crime.
Computer-related crime is one of the most difficult tasks these investigators face. Fraudulent activities on sites like Ebay and perpetrators utilizing email scams present daunting challenges for this team. The Internet has become an easy and sometimes anonymous way to become involved in illegal activities.
The Financial Crimes Team has built an exceptional working relationship with area banks and retailers in combating credit card and identity theft (for tips to protect yourself from crime, review our identity theft information). The Property Crimes Team also has a good working relationship with local pawn stores and utilizes the department’s Law Enforcement Automated Database Search (LEADS) program as well as the MN Automated Pawn System to track property purchased by local pawn stores.
In addition, members of the Property Crimes Team also utilize forensic trace evidence like DNA and fingerprints when investigating property crimes such as robberies and burglaries. The Property Crime Teams can often be found canvassing neighborhoods, collecting video evidence and executing search warrants.