Car break-ins spike on campus; rifle found in printing center

University police responded to a rash of car break-ins across campus over the weekend and into the week.

University Police Lt. Chuck Miner said Minneapolis police have also seen a spike in vehicle break-ins around southeast Minneapolis and are sharing information with University police.

Miner said the thefts could be related based on the way criminals are breaking into the vehicles.

“Some like to break windows, some like to use a Slim Jim and some like to punch locks,” he said. “These have been punched locks.”

A vehicle parked on University Avenue had both the driver’s side wheels removed late at night while it sat under a street lamp. The vehicle’s owner discovered it resting on concrete blocks the next morning.

Eight vehicles were broken into early Saturday morning along East River Road.

University police officers tried to contact all the vehicle owners but could only reach a few, according to the police report.

Those who could be reached said stereos, CDs and other electronics had been stolen from their vehicles.

Miner said people who break into cars tend to look in the windows first, so keeping valuables out of view and parking in well-lit areas is the best way to avoid thefts.

University and Minneapolis police are actively investigating the crimes.

In other police news:

University police responded to three reports of graffiti around campus over two weeks.

Miner said graffiti is rare on campus and usually is only seen on the edges of the University around abandoned buildings.

“The key is cleaning it up quickly,” he said. “Someone doesn’t want to spend four hours on a work of art and have it cleaned up that quickly; they want people to see it.”

Facilities Management cleans up all the graffiti on campus after police have the opportunity to photograph it for their records.

Minneapolis police also photograph graffiti and keep it on file. In the event that someone tagging a wall gets caught, they could face charges for all their previous tags, Miner said.

An employee at the University Printing Center’s main shop found a .22 caliber rifle round lying on a rug in the building’s entryway.

He reported it to his supervisor, who contacted University police, according to the report.

The reporting person told police they were not having any problems with current or former employees.

Police did not find a gun at the scene or any evidence of damage to the building, Miner said.

“It’s not really clear how it got there,” Miner said. “A big unknown.”

Sanford Hall Facilities Management workers reported two windows had been broken over spring break.

The windows face University Avenue and are directly across the street from a residential neighborhood and a fraternity house.

Police found golf balls on the ground in front of the broken windows, according to the report.

Miner said police will begin investigating the incident today. It had been sidelined while police focused on staffing the recent war protests.