The University of Minnesota Police Department will increase its presence during the first few weeks of the fall semester, University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said.
“We have a busy fall with Vikings and Gophers games,” he said.
The Vikings will play their first preseason game Friday at TCF Bank Stadium, and Miner said there will be a few more police officers than normal at the stadium.
Miner said UMPD will work to ensure that instances of robbery and theft remain low once the University area becomes more crowded, so police are planning an increased presence. During last year’s fall semester, a spike in crime on and near campus triggered 16 crime alerts for 22 crimes.
UMPD will also keep an eye on the Green Line light rail, which opened in June.
“We’ll be working on some informational campaigns to get the word out about safety,” Miner said, “but we may have to follow that up with some enforcement.”
He said it’s hard to tell if there will be any problems with the transit line once more students arrive for the fall semester, but so far no students have been involved in accidents with the trains on campus.
And like in past years, the University will conduct a public safety campaign this fall aimed at combatting unsafe alcohol consumption, Miner said.
Spike in bike thefts
In the past week, six bicycles were reported stolen from around the University area, according to police records, and two students reported their bicycles’ wheels stolen.
Five of the stolen bicycles had been locked, though the locks had been cut, according to the police reports. At least two of those locks were cable locks — not U-locks, which are considered more secure.
“We almost never have a situation in which a bike has been stolen that’s been locked with a U-lock,” Miner said.
University sophomore Enoch Kan reported July 30 that his bike had been stolen days earlier. He said he last parked his bike on a rack outside of the 17th Avenue Residence Hall, and he didn’t need to use it for a few days.
Kan later returned to find his lock cut and his bike missing. He said he used a cable lock because his U-lock was broken, even though he knew the U-lock was safer.
Miner said keeping track of a bicycle’s model and serial numbers can help return bikes if they’re stolen. Police can enter the information into a national database and identify a bicycle’s owner if it’s recovered.
Kan gave the responding officer his bike’s serial number as well as a description of it, but he said he’s not confident he’ll get it back.
Kan said it was the first bike he’s owned and it was fairly expensive.
Despite the recent “unusual” spike in bike thefts, Miner said the number of bike thefts is decreasing overall.
“We had a high in 2011 of 184, and so far this year we’ve had 35 as of a week ago,” he said.
Miner attributed the drop to UMPD’s bait bike program, which started in 2011.
“All in all, the program’s been very successful, we feel,” he said.