The temperature drop in January coincided with a slight drop in nonviolent crimes around campus, according to last month’s Gopher Watch safety report.
The Gopher Watch safety report, which covers neighborhoods around the University of Minnesota where many students call home, is compiled by the off-campus watch group using Minneapolis Police Department crime data. The report for January was released Feb. 20 and showed small decreases in most types of nonviolent crime across the board. However, it did highlight a trend in burglaries around the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, as well as thefts from motor vehicles in the Stadium Village and Prospect Park areas.
According to the report, January saw more home burglaries in Marcy-Holmes than the neighborhoods of Cedar-Riverside, Prospect Park and Southeast Como combined. Multiple instances of loud knocking on doors late at night or very early in the morning were reported, presumably to check for occupants.
Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association board member Marcus Mills said he has heard about similar incidents from MPD officials in the past.
“The perpetrators were generally … staking out a neighborhood, finding houses that had a general pattern of people not being home,” he said. “They’d kind of scope out that pattern [and] utilize that to begin a process.”
Mills said similar work schedules of the predominantly middle-class residents may make the area a target for burglars. He believes a solution is socio-economic diversity in the neighborhood.
“If you have a lot of people with a lot of different backgrounds and a lot of different economic circumstances and a lot of different needs, then there are eyes on the street at almost all times,” Mills said. “Once they see that there’s no time suspicious eyes couldn’t be on [the street], they’ll just decide to go somewhere else.”
A MHNA crime and safety meeting with residents and MPD and City of Minneapolis officials held Thursday addressed a rash of violent crimes in Marcy-Holmes over the last few weeks, including a Feb. 9 double homicide and an attempted sexual assault of a University student Feb. 8. In response to these incidents, MPD has increased patrols in the area, according to MPD 2nd Precinct Inspector Todd Loining.
“We never want to instill unnecessary fear in the hearts and minds of folks that live in this fine city, but we do tell people […] try to practice safety in numbers when you can, try to walk in well-lit areas, try to put your cell phone away,” Loining said at the meeting.
The uptick in thefts from motor vehicles in the Prospect Park and Stadium Village areas may be due to people leaving their cars idling and unattended to warm them up, according to the report. A City ordinance that went into effect June 2008 made it illegal to leave idling vehicles unattended in Minneapolis.
Although crime in the University’s surrounding neighborhoods seems to have declined in 2019 so far, on-campus crime has remained generally the same since last year, said University of Minnesota Police Department Chief Matt Clark.
“I would say the trends are the same from 2018 for the most part,” Clark said. “A lot of dealings with just folks in the buildings after hours and some property crime events, but again very similar to what we were seeing.”