Lyndale and Kingfield neighborhoods hit by crime wave

Businesses, residents frustrated by vandalism, robberies

Pat Mulroy stocks $500 storefront windows like others stock light bulbs.

He patrols his business, Mulroys Body Shop on Nicollet in the Kingfield neighborhood, like a police officer, and he doesn’t hesitate to tell suspicious-looking passerby to get lost.

Thousands of dollars in damage from vandalism and burglaries during the past year have made him this way.

“If I had my radar up any higher, Northwest would be flying into it,” Mulroy said. “I’m frustrated, angry, defensive, suspicious – I’m just livid thinking that something’s going to happen.”

The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has tagged the “Nicollet Avenue corridor” that stretches west of Bryant to Interstate 35W and from Lake Street to 38th Street as an area to concentrate on this summer as part of the Safe City Initiative. Loitering, drugs, gang activity and robberies are some of the problems police identify.

Residents and business owners in Kingfield and Lyndale have noticed crime beyond the identified corridor. Graffiti, assaults, robberies, burglaries and drug activity has been reported throughout much of the neighborhoods. Gunshot reports are on the rise.

The crime, particularly in Kingfield, is worse than some residents have seen in many years, and they are taking action to stop it.

“I’ve never heard concerns about crime like I’ve heard this year,” said Sarah Linnes-Robinson, executive director of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association KFNA. “The neighborhood has been so peaceful for so many years.”

Between Jan. 1 and April 31, Part 1 crimes, which include homicides, rapes, assaults, burglaries, thefts, vehicle thefts and arsons, totaled 113 in Kingfield and 178 in Lyndale. That’s up from 84 in Kingfield and 140 offenses in Lyndale during the same period in 2005. In 2004, the neighborhoods had 65 and 157 Part 1 crimes, respectively.

Crime Prevention Specialist Tom Thompson said the MPD’s concentration on northern neighborhoods in the 5th precinct might have bumped criminal activity further west and south. The crime movement is known as displacement, he said.

“Wherever we put the resources, [criminals] will move elsewhere,” Thompson said.

Though police plan to concentrate on sections of Kingfield and Lyndale this summer, Thompson said he has encouraged residents to form walking groups in their communities. The groups enable neighbors to get to know and look out for each other.

Kingfield resurrected walking groups earlier this year to regularly patrol the neighborhood and Lyndale’s groups, which have been around for about 15 years, have become more active.

Kingfield has had walking groups in the past, but they became less active as a result of lower crime in recent years. A Kingfield crime prevention and safety task force, developed as a result of increased crime early this year, is helping residents form new groups.

“Making a presence in the neighborhood is a very safe and proactive way to take back the streets,” said Joanna Sahlberg Hallstom, KFNA project organizer.

Sahlberg said her concerns about crime in the neighborhood were minimal until two of her neighbors were assaulted in the street last fall. Graffiti is also a growing problem, she said. Neighbors are usually quick to paint over graffiti, but vandals are just as quick to tag the spot again.

“The same places are constantly hit,” Sahlberg said.

The Kingfield crime prevention and safety task force also meets regularly with police staff and concerned neighbors.

The Lyndale Neighborhood Association has a crime and drug committee and a graffiti task force. Neighborhood residents are feeling the crime increase, said Lyndale Neighborhood Community Organizer Kristine Danzinger, but they aren’t letting it drive them out of the neighborhood.

“I think we can defeat it,” she said.

Mulroy feels the same way. His family-owned business, which moved from 4325 Nicollet to 3920 Nicollet about a year and a half ago, has been in the area for nearly a half-century, and he doesn’t want to move anywhere else.

He’s invested $25,000 into a security system for his new shop. What the cameras can’t catch, he hopes he or his neighbors will.

“They’re not going to scare me outta here,” Mulroy said.

Jake Weyer can be reached at [email protected] and 612-436-4367