You might say Daniel Edward Nixon is the Walmart of the Twin Cities criminal set. Court records indicate he takes a decidedly high-volume, low-quality approach to his scores.
During his 55 years on this planet, Nixon has racked up 25 convictions for theft and burglary. If getting caught is the benchmark by which one’s illicit skills are measured, his is a stat sheet that suggests additional training is in order.
But there’s an upside to playing with modest ambition for minor stakes: You don’t spend a lot of time in jail. Since only five of those convictions were felonies, Nixon remained free to carry on his trade among the finer merchants of St. Paul. Until recently, that is.
Over the last year, police investigated a string of low-rent burglaries in and around the capital city. They came with a similar modus operandi: Someone would break a window or a glass door, empty cash registers, steal cigs and lottery tickets, and maybe clean out a safe, then disappear into the night.
The mastermind behind the spree wasn’t exactly hewing to the Golden Rule attributed to Hall of Fame robber Willie Sutton in 1952. When asked why he took down banks, Sutton is said to have replied, “That’s where the money is.”
But this practitioner of the criminal arts was hitting targets where the loot comes in much lower denominations. He was busting into The Ha Tien supermarket, the World of Beers, Big Discount Liquor, the University Buffet, and assorted other minor fiefdoms of commerce that couldn’t be counted on for high-yield returns.
At one University Avenue Arby’s, police discovered that he had unsuccessfully tried to saw open a safe.
The capers ran from February to September, when the roll came to an end in South St. Paul. Nixon was arrested inside a SuperAmerica, having busted a window to gain entry.
Through store videos and DNA, detectives eventually linked him to 12 burglaries. A search of his West St. Paul apartment only added to his legal woes. Police found hundreds of packs of cigarettes, lottery tickets by the row, broken cash register drawers, and a to-do list of greater Twin Cities convenience stores.
Worse, the evidence suggests that Nixon won’t be able to skate lightly this time around. He’s been charged with eight felony counts of second-degree burglary.