Career of ripping off coin boxes nets 10 years in prison


Ernest Baugh has spent a lifetime breaking into the laundry rooms in apartment buildings and then stealing money from washing machine coin boxes. Nothing changed his behavior, so prosecutors labeled him a career criminal and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Tanya Bransford sentenced Ernest Baugh to 120 months in prison for two recent burglaries committed in January 2016 and this past February.

Judge Bransford agreed that Baugh, 61, of Brooklyn Center is a career felony offender, having been charged with at least 14 burglaries since 1990 and possibly as many as 26 since the 1970s.

“This might look like using a sledge hammer to drive a nail, but Mr. Baugh’s career of crime has had a real impact on people,” Freeman said. “We and the rest of our partners in the criminal justice system have tried every possible alternative to get him to mend his ways, but he has stubbornly continued to break into apartment buildings and steal. He won’t have the opportunity to do that anymore until he is at least 67 years old.”

According to the criminal complaint from the February case, Baugh entered the laundry room of an apartment building located in Uptown Minneapolis and used a vise grip to break into the coin box on a washing machine and took the quarters. A surveillance video captured a man committing this crime and Baugh’s parole officer had no difficulty identifying Baugh as the burglar. In another case, two men walked into the laundry room as Baugh was prying open the coin box.

In court, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Diane Krenz read impact statement from two individuals. One victim, who owns more than 30 apartment buildings, said that although the amount of money Baugh stole was small, the expense of the repairs to the machines was significant and tenants don’t feel safe when a theft occurs where they live.

Judge Bransford told Baugh that she hoped the long prison sentence would get him to finally change his ways.

Criminal Complaint (PDF)