Robberies surge at year’s end

Robberies in Southwest increased in late December, but were still down from last year

Police in the 5th Precinct spent the last month of 2008 fighting a wave of robberies scattered throughout more than a half-dozen Southwest
neighborhoods.

Robberies in Southwest were down all year compared to 2007 and 2006, but the weekly norm jumped from fewer than four in November and early December to seven or more by the year’s end. Insp. Kris Arneson, commander of the 5th Precinct, said the holidays and the tough economy were likely factors in the increase.

The precinct tracks robbery locations and creates "focus zones" accordingly to stop the crimes, a tactic that has continued to work in recent weeks, Arneson said.

Several robbery suspects were arrested in late December, all of them young males. In the precinct’s second sector alone — which includes the East Calhoun, CARAG, Lyndale, Kingfield, East Harriet, Linden Hills and West Calhoun neighborhoods — seven robbery arrests were made during a week-and-a-half stretch, said Crime Prevention Specialist Tom Thompson.  

In one instance, police arrested a 22-year-old and a 17-year-old after a man who had been robbed near the 3000 block of Pleasant Avenue flagged down officers in the area. Other officers stopped a suspicious vehicle nearby and the man identified the suspects.   

Some of the robberies have involved assault or the use or implication of a gun. Robbers stole wallets, cash, credit cards and other items. Most of the incidents happened after dark.

Robberies for the year through Dec. 29 totaled 283 in the 5th Precinct, a 22 percent decline from last year’s 307. Citywide during the same time period, robbery dropped 19 percent. Citywide violent crime, which includes homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, was down 14 percent — marking Minneapolis’ second-straight year of double-digit crime reductions.

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan and Mayor R.T. Rybak spoke about the drop in crime at a December news conference. They attributed it to "proactive coordinated efforts which highlight prevention," according to a news release about the numbers.

An emphasis on combating youth crime and connecting with neighborhoods also helped improve safety, it said.

"Community-oriented policing strategies implemented over the past two years are helping police better connect to communities, combat juvenile crime, and improve overall public safety in Minneapolis," the release said.