Thefts running high at summer’s end

Year-to-date crime statistics in Southwest Minneapolis’ 5th Precinct show an increase in nearly every category, with the exception of robbery.

The statistics include a significant increase in theft from vehicles, which is up 71.7 percent from last year at this time, totaling 733 incidents as of Aug. 28.

5th Precinct Insp. Kathy Waite said the numbers look high after two years of very low crime.

“When you come up against really low years, you’re bound to circle back around to more crime occurring in the area. It’s a cycle, with it going up and down,” she said. “…As is the case in most precincts, the property crime really drives the vast majority of our numbers.”

Thefts occur rapidly, so police rely on the public for help preventing the crime, she said. Waite said residents should remember that even low-value items can look attractive to passersby — one suspect in another precinct grabbed a breast pump near an open window, thinking it was a laptop. Suspects near the lakes also notice when drivers arrive and visibly place valuables in a trunk, she said. Garage door openers should either be concealed from view or brought inside a home, she said. Waite said people should go beyond social media posts and always file police reports, so officers know how to deploy resources.

Regarding bike theft, Waite said thieves can penetrate any lock. She recommended the advice of Crime Prevention Analyst Luther Krueger:

“Buy a really cheap bike and a really expensive lock,” she said.

Much of the theft from vehicles occurs along main street corridors, she said. Other issues surround late-night business districts.

“I always worry about people that are leaving the bars late at night walking home alone or walking a distance to a vehicle, oftentimes looking at their cell phones, not paying attention to their surroundings, sometimes under the influence of alcohol,” Waite said.

She said police have seen a string of thefts from underground garages, and bicycles inside garages should always be locked up.

Waite said police have turned several recent cases over to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, including a fatal hit-and-run at 26th & Blaisdell in April, a June homicide under the I-394 bridge near Linden Avenue West and Dunwoody Boulevard, and an April shooting at the 3000 block of Lyndale Avenue.

Police continue to investigate July 1 shootings at Lagoon & Humboldt and the 3100 block of Hennepin, as well as the June death of a gunshot victim at 32nd & Blaisdell.

“In all of these situations, they don’t appear to be random in nature,” Waite said of the shootings. “…I don’t believe that the general public is at risk.”

Arrests in the 5th Precinct are up year-to-date in most crime categories, with the exception of robbery and burglary. One recent arrest yielded charges for more than a dozen burglaries, Waite said, many of them in underground garages. The arrest has made an impact on East Isles, Lowry Hill and East Calhoun neighborhoods where the suspect was active, she said.

“You take one person off the street, and it has a huge impact in dropping crime,” she said.