Recent crime and building security spark concern in Cedar-Riverside

Residents hope security upgrades to apartment buildings will deter recent criminal activity from outsiders.

The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood as seen on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018.

Will Tooke

The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood as seen on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018.

by Mohamed Ibrahim

Recent crime trends, including trespassing by nonresidents in apartment buildings, have sparked safety concerns in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. 

The Riverside Plaza apartments are owned by real estate developer Sherman Associates and currently house more than 4,000 residents. In late 2018, the owners improved their surveillance camera system to beef up security. Residents hope recent security upgrades to Riverside Plaza, the most densely populated buildings in the neighborhood, will deter criminal activity from outsiders. 

“The upgrade was consistent with our standard policy for evaluating and updating technology that we employ throughout our portfolio,” said Sherman Associates director of marketing and communications Valerie Doleman in an email. 

The addition of new security cameras in Riverside Plaza brings the total to almost 200, said Minneapolis Police Department Lt. Nick Torborg at a monthly safety meeting on April 2 attended by MPD and Metro Transit Police officials.

At the April 2 meeting, residents raised concerns about people from outside the neighborhood coming through on the light rail and committing crimes like stealing purses and cell phones. MPD Officer Mohamud Jama said this additional surveillance might help officials combat these crimes. 

“We speak with the security down here, we keep a good communication because they tell us what problems they’re having” Jama said. “Most of the problems that occur in Riverside Plaza, we get security – they tell us what’s going on, they show us videos so we’re aware of that.”

According to MPD crime statistics, larceny made up more than 60 percent of all crime reported in the neighborhood in April. Crime data from January through the end of April shows auto thefts were almost triple what they were in the area over the same time frame last year.

Teenagers took a stolen vehicle for a joyride as recently as Sunday, crashing it before fleeing the area on the light rail, according to MPD 1st Precinct Crime Prevention Specialist Carla Nielson. The auto theft increase is attributed to colder weather and is expected to go down as temperatures rise, Nielson said at a monthly safety meeting Tuesday.

“What we find is there are still people who leave their keys in the car and the door is unlocked [and] people rifle through the car,” Nielson said at the meeting. “At a coffee shop, people will leave their car running and run in to get a hot cup of coffee, and then come out and their car is gone.”

The Cedar High Apartments across the street, owned by the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, received an $825,000 upgrade last year after residents requested more security. Announced by City of Minneapolis officials in May 2018, the extra security measures included 17 new cameras and six-foot-tall perimeter fencing. 

The property’s security office has received fewer calls regarding outsiders gaining access to the buildings since the additions, said MPHA spokesperson Marin Devine.

“It’s just something that we hope gives the people who live there a bigger sense of security, just knowing that the people who live there are the ones able to access the property when they need to,” Devine said.