Cold, finals drive down crime rate

Also, a thief broke into four lockers at the rec center on Saturday night, a report said.

by Nick Wicker

In September, law enforcement officials were bracing themselves for the upcoming football season and for TCF Bank Stadium to host both Gophers and Minnesota Vikings games.

Many anticipated an increase in “incivility” crimes, like disturbances, assaults and parties, said University of Minnesota police Chief Greg Hestness.

“The neighborhoods have been concerned that either the Vikings and/or Gophers game days would cause more mayhem,” he said.

But Hestness said those types of crimes weren’t as problematic as the University community originally feared and are beginning to decrease.

Cold weather and approaching finals week, which cuts down on students’ socializing time, have also lent to a recent lowered crime rate, he said.

Winter temperatures have contributed to a decline in campus bike thefts, said Hestness, who also credited the drop to a police department effort — UMPD’s “bait bike” program.

With the program, UMPD plants bikes on campus, each equipped with a GPS tracker to help the department track down anyone who tries to steal it.

Hestness said the program may be deterring people from stealing bicycles because the potential criminals are now more aware that each bicycle they steal carries an added risk.

Some of the people UMPD recently arrested for bike thefts told officers they knew about the bait bikes but took their chances anyway, Hestness said.

“We got our seasonal decline coming now, too,” Hestness said. “We’ve got quite a few students and staff who are stalwarts, who are biking all winter long. [But thefts] drop off.”

Sunday assault in Prospect Park

Raymond Ronyak, 67, said he was driving westbound on Delaware Street Southeast on Sunday afternoon when he was assaulted.

He said a car turning right from 25th Avenue Southeast cut in front of him while he had the right-of-way, and the two collided.

The incident occurred at about 4 p.m., according to a Minneapolis police report.

Soon after the collision, Ronyak said the other driver got out of his vehicle, walked to Ronyak’s car and assaulted him.

“He opened my door, and he got on top of me, and he just was pounding on me and said, ‘You hit my car, you hit my car,’” Ronyak said.

Roynak said he refused an ambulance, telling the 911 operators that it would “never make it” because of traffic from the day’s Vikings game.

Roynak said he recently had rotator cuff surgery and that the suspect hit him in the shoulder where he had been operated on.

“I’m an old guy. I’m 67 years old, I’m not no young kid,” Roynak said. “It’s just ridiculous that the kid would do this.”

Thief breaks into four lockers at rec center

Financial math sophomore Jia Yun was one of four University students who were victims of thefts at the University Rec Center on Saturday evening, according to a UMPD police report.

Yun said his backpack and cell phone were among the items stolen from his locker, which Hestness said was cut open with a bolt cutter.

“I came back to the locker room at about 6:30 and found all my clothes spread out on the floor and my locker opened,” Yun said.

Hestness said the case was assigned to a UMPD investigator.