Meeting looks at tackling crime

Kevin McCahill

The Prospect Park East River Road Improvement Association sends weekly e-mails to neighborhood members, and the topics have included finding piano teachers and neighbors reporting break-ins.

The association is meeting tonight to discuss what it will do about the increase in crime, and what students can do to change things.

Association president Joe Ring hopes the meeting will help students get involved in protecting themselves.

“We can help facilitate,” he said. “We can help them deal with (crime).”

According to 2nd Precinct crime prevention specialist Carol Oosterhuis, from 2004 to 2005 burglary reports increased 20 percent, theft reports have increased 86 percent and robbery reports have doubled in that area.

A majority of the incidents occurred near student apartments like University Commons, Ring said. A majority are vehicle break-ins and theft, he said.

There has been a 13 percent increase in crime during the first two months of this year compared with the same period last year, according to Minneapolis police statistics. Still, crime reports in the 2nd Precinct are half of what they are in the 4th Precinct, which covers north Minneapolis.

Those numbers increased, though some statistics, such as those of assault, have decreased 50 percent over that time, Oosterhuis said.

Oosterhuis said she will attend tonight’s meeting and hopes it will be useful.

“I think if it increases awareness and people take steps to decrease opportunities for crime, it’s helpful,” she said.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Prospect Park United Methodist Church.

Ward 2 City Council member Cam Gordon is expected to attend as well. The meeting also will include members of the 2nd Precinct who will discuss the crime issue.

Ring said crime rates are high in the area because students typically are young and inexperienced in living on their own.

Most surprising, according to Ring, is that there was less crime reported near Dinnaken properties.

“Dinnaken is obviously doing something different,” he said. “That may be the answer of what these management companies can do.”

But Dinnaken Vice President Yvonne Grosulak said the company isn’t different. There is crime in the area, and her properties haven’t been immune to it, she said.

“I wouldn’t say one place is safer than the other,” she said. “(Criminals) are just targeting the neighborhood.”

Three of the Dinnaken properties, Argyle House, Tairrie House and the Fulton Townhomes all have underground parking, while Dinnaken House has on-street parking, which likely reduces some crime, she said.

“It’s an urban setting, so there are certain things you expect,” she said.

Other building managers have noticed a crime increase as well.

Constance Slama, property manager for University Commons, said she has seen an increase in crime in the past few years, and has taken steps to prevent it.

Slama hired a security company to watch the property every night and is planning to add security cameras. She also has asked the Minneapolis Police Department to drive through her lot more often.

Some students’ cars were broken into, but Slama said things have gotten better with more security.

“At the beginning of the year we had a rough time when there were some break-ins,” she said. “But it has definitely thinned out.”

Slama said the crime reduction also is caused by colder weather, but was confident the heightened security will make a difference in the spring.