Duluth police search for rubber ball fetish burglar
A Duluth man with a history of burglary to satisfy a self-professed sexual fetish for slashing large rubber exercise balls has been at it again, according to a complaint made public on Thursday.
Christopher Neil Bjerkness, 31, is accused of breaking into the St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic West building at 4212 Grand Ave., where he allegedly slashed exercise balls, apparently with a sharp knife.
Bjerkness is charged in St. Louis County District Court with second- and third-degree burglary in connection with the May 30 break-in at the clinic. Police have been unable to locate Bjerkness and a warrant was issued for his arrest Wednesday.
SMDC officials turned over to Duluth police video surveillance of the break-in and exit from the building. A police investigator concluded that the burglar was Bjerkness.
Bjerkness was convicted in 2005 of first-degree criminal damage to property after making an unauthorized entry into the Sports and Health Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth on several occasions between February and September of 2004 and damaging inflatable exercise balls.
He admitted to using a knife to slash about 72 exercise balls during three incidents at the college. The different-sized balls were valued at $30 to $60 each.
In pleading guilty in that case, Bjerkness also admitted slashing balls at the St. Mary's/Duluth Clinic Center for Personal Fitness. He said he entered the center by jimmying a locked door with his knife. The fitness center reported to police that
40 balls had been slashed.
According to the criminal complaint, Bjerkness also was convicted in 2006 of third-degree burglary for entering the Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation Center and damaging inflatable exercise balls there.
SMDC officials said special camera systems were installed and overtime paid to catch Bjerkness in the prior acts.
Court documents in the earlier cases indicate that Bjerkness told Duluth police he slashed the rubber balls to satisfy a sexual urge. He said he popped some of them with his hands. Experts in the field said that Bjerkness has a fetish or unusual attraction to inflatable exercise devices.
As part of his probation, Bjerkness was ordered to undergo psychological counseling but he left his therapy group in April 2008, according to the criminal complaint. A licensed psychologist said the defendant was not attempting to get better and "continues to be a risk to society.''