Police caution against theft and rape

When she came home from the bookstore Tuesday, Mandy Jo Vargas found her Sanford Hall room unlocked and her roommate gone.
As she readied herself to go out for the night, Vargas, a freshman in theater and elementary education, realized her wallet had disappeared from her desk top.
“That was a big mistake of mine,” Vargas said about leaving her wallet vulnerable on the desk.
University Police Sgt. Joe May said theft is the most commonly reported crime on campus. Sixty-two percent of all police reports are theft, about 1,150 a year.
“Most thefts are of unattended, unsecured property,” May said. “But this is still a pretty safe place.”
The Minneapolis Police Department’s Community Crime Prevention Program took steps to aid the University community — especially freshmen — in preventing theft, assaults and other crimes. As new students moved in, officers distributed a pack of pamphlets and literature to residence hall assistants containing tips on preventing crimes on campus.
The literature covers everything from auto theft to bike theft to maintaining privacy on the Internet to offering advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.
Last year, thieves swiped more than 3,400 bikes in Minneapolis, police said. The information pack gives common sense theft prevention ideas, like always locking a bike, even if it is left unattended for only a couple of minutes, and securing both tires.
Police recovered almost 2,700 stolen bikes last year. But only 12 percent of those were returned to the owners because most bikes aren’t registered.
Nicole Magnan of the Minneapolis Police Department said bikes cannot be returned without registration. Bikes can be registered at the University Police department in the Transportation and Safety Building, at 511 Washington Ave. S.E.
The pack also includes a pamphlet on mace, screech alarms and stun guns. It gives tips using and selecting these self-defense items but warns about problems like a victim having the mace used against him or her.
Magnan said that while these items can be of good use, it may be a better idea to use the campus escort service, which can be accessed 24 hours a day at 624-WALK.
Magnan also said that date and acquaintance rape is on the rise.
“We can tell people not to walk in a dark alley,” she said. “But it’s harder with date rape. Ninety-nine percent of the time the victim has been drinking.”
Rohypnol is an added problem. Rohypnol is a Valium-type sedative drug that renders a person helpless and wipes out immediate memories. Rohypnol is undetectable.
May said there have been at least two suspected cases of the Rohypnol being used in a campus rape. He said people don’t understand what is happening to them when the drug takes affect. To prevent being victimized with Rohypnol, May offered this advice:
“For protection, do like they did in those old detective movies in the 1940s: only buy stuff in a bottle. It’s a lot harder to drop stuff in a bottle as opposed to a wide-mouth glass.”