Burglaries around U persist over winter break

Five of these incidents occurred while residents were home.

by Branden Largent

At least eight houses in the University of Minnesota area were burglarized while many students were gone for break. But in five of those cases, the residents were home at the time of the break-in.

Police believe four of the incidents, all of which occurred on Dec. 21, are connected. Another burglary was reported late last week.

Breanne Ament, a nursing senior, was out to dinner Thursday when her roommate called and told her their duplex home in the Southeast Como neighborhood had been burglarized.

AmentâÄôs roommate and her boyfriend were at home when they heard loud noises coming from the next room. Realizing it wasnâÄôt Ament, they walked into her room to find a TV halfway out her window with the cable cord still connected to the wall and her laptop missing, but the burglar was already gone.

âÄúItâÄôs a very scary thing and an invasion of privacy,âÄù said Ament, who believes the burglar knew her and her roommateâÄôs daily routines and had possibly scouted out her valuables.

The burglar entered the duplex through the basement window, which needs to be replaced, Ament said.

She said the burglary wasnâÄôt the most surprising incident, since two of her neighborâÄôs homes had been broken into this fall, including a tenant in the other half of the duplex. A burglar entered through a window with a broken lock and stole a TV.

There have been 37 reported burglaries in the Como neighborhood, and 59 in Marcy-Holmes between September and January.

The four burglaries on Dec. 21 occurred near Dinkytown while the victims were home. The suspect is described as a black male about 30-years-old, between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 foot 2 inches tall with medium build and wearing a tan, hip-length puffy coat.

Tyler Jensen, a University biology student, was upstairs when the suspect entered through his front door, which Jensen said was probably cracked open, and stole his cellphone, laptop and wallet.

âÄúI was in disbelief,âÄù Jensen said. âÄúI didnâÄôt think someone would break into our house while people are home.âÄù

Jensen and his eight other roommates now lock their bedroom doors whenever they are in other parts of the house and make sure to keep the front door, which locks automatically, shut tightly.

In another incident, University senior Jennifer Gratzl startled the suspect as he entered her house through the back door.

The suspect told her he was looking for a man. Gratzl said he kept repeating himself, until she slammed the door in his face. She then locked all other doors on the house.

âÄúIt was one of those âÄòI need to do something [moments]âÄô but it was also frightening,âÄù Gratzl said.

âÄú[Burglars] donâÄôt care if people are there or not, obviously, with as many burglaries there have been with people at home.âÄù

University police Chief Greg Hestness said that burglaries can happen while victims are home, but they still account for a small percentage of burglaries in the neighborhoods.

âÄúUsually burglars prefer not to be seen or detected âĦ When people are bold enough to come in when you are home âÄî thatâÄôs another level of aggressiveness that obviously gives us a lot of concern,âÄù Hestness said.

Hestness said University police increased patrols in the Marcy-Holmes and Como neighborhoods in response to the
burglary trend.