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After van is briefly stolen with 2 kids inside, police arrest 7 juveniles in St. Paul

ST. PAUL — After a man was assaulted and robbed in St. Paul this weekend, police say one of the suspects got in his van — with his two children inside — and started driving away.

The suspect went less than a block before getting out of the van and fleeing, police said. The children, who are 1 and 8 years old, weren’t injured.

Officers arrested seven juveniles — five are 16 years old and the other two 15 years old.

Police were called to the Frogtown area about 2:20 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 16, after a 30-year-old put his son and daughter in the family’s van, which was parked on Sherburne Avenue near Virginia Street.

He was adjusting one of the car seats when he said a group of juveniles approached, according to Steve Linders, a St. Paul police spokesman.

“One of the kids ‘clothes-lined’ him across the throat and knocked him to the ground,” according to Linders, who said the man sustained bruises to his hands, face and legs. “Other suspects then went through his pockets and took his wallet.”

During the robbery and assault, one of the suspects started driving away with the kids in the van. He stopped at the intersection, got out of the van, entered another vehicle and left.

Soon after, an officer at the Target store on University Avenue saw a group of males trying to buy gift cards, with what turned out to be the robbery victim’s credit card. The officer approached and the suspects ran away, Linders said.

Police later found and arrested seven juveniles on suspicion of aggravated robbery, kidnapping, financial transaction fraud and crime to benefit a gang.