EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) -- Two men have been directly charged in connection to a string of burglaries across Eau Claire County.
According to a criminal complaint filed Friday, 18-year-old Gavin Potter and 20-year-old Mark Dickinsen, both from Eau Claire, are linked to five burglaries at four houses during a six-month span.
On Oct. 5, 2017, Potter burglarized the first home listed in the complaint, located on Vienna Terrace on Eau Claire’s west side. Investigators said among the items taken were two Apple MacBooks and an AR 15-style rifle.
A reported burglary on E. Fillmore Ave. on Nov. 8 was the first time Potter’s name was listed as a suspect, but the complaint states the home was cluttered and “it would be difficult to determine if items were stolen.”
Then, on Dec. 1, another burglary was reported on Sindelar Dr. in the Town of Washington. Among the items reported stolen from the residence were a Mossberg 20-gague pump shotgun, a Beretta model 92 40-caliber handgun, and a PlayStation 4 game system.
The final home listed in the complaint was on Mitchell Rd. in the Town of Brunswick. The complaint states two burglaries took place there – on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1 – and represented the highest value of items taken. Weapons were again a target, with three handguns and a concealable body armor vest among the items missing.
“It’s definitely in the higher end of residential burglaries that we've seen it in the in the recent past,” Det. Don Henning, with the Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department, said to WEAU 13 News on Friday. "Not only were we able to secure all of them and get them from Gavin Potter and his residence, before they were moved on to somebody else, but we were also able to recover the majority of the property for the homeowners that had the loss initially."
Henning estimates more than $120,000 in property was taken among the five reported burglaries.
Henning said the big break in the case came when authorities learned of pictures potter posted through his Snapchat account.
"Social media can work for you and can work against you,” he said. “In this case, social media helped us greatly and then we're able to identify someone who actually saw some of those Snapchat images or social media images and confirm and verify a lot of information that let us go great resolution in this case."
The complaint showed social media aided Potter – particularly in the two burglaries at the Town of Washington home.
"He knew some of the family members and knew, because of social media posts and other things - Snapchat or Facebook and other posts or messages that he had was some of the family members - that they were out of town and no one was home," Henning said.
A search warrant was served at Potter’s home and many items reported stolen were recovered. During the investigation, authorities questioned Dickinsen, who later admitted to helping Potter in at least one of the burglaries.
Potter and Dickinsen are being held in the Eau Claire County jail, with Potter being issued a $50,000 cash bond and Dickinsen a $2,000 cash bond.
Mark's brother – 26-year-old Jordan Dickinsen – was present when authorities questioned Mark Dickinsen and was also charged in the complaint, with possession of THC and other drug paraphernalia.