Police: Theft is No. 1 crime on campus

by Alan Butterworth

James Bridewell said he chases tornadoes for fun, so he didn’t hesitate to chase down a thief who stole his colleague’s purse last week.

The five-minute chase started at the Outside Inn cafe in Moos Tower, went through the Mayo Clinic halls and parking lot, and ended when the suspect dropped the purse and fled the scene, Bridewell, who works at the cafe, said.

Instances where people chase down suspects happen occasionally, Deputy Police Chief for the University Police Department Steve Johnson said.

“I don’t want to discourage people from doing it,” Johnson said. “But I also don’t want to encourage people to do it,” noting that such situations can be dangerous.

Theft is the number one crime on campus and a new academic year is a vulnerable time, Johnson said.

Wallets and bikes are among the most commonly stolen items on campus.

“Every year the neighborhoods have new residents, and the residence halls have new occupants,” Johnson said. “People don’t know their neighbors, strangers fit in and aren’t challenged, and thieves know this. Theft is a crime of opportunity.”

If students are faced with a situation where they need to confront someone, Johnson said, he recommends following the suspect from a distance and calling the police to make the actual confrontation.

“People need to call in suspicious activity,” Johnson said.

He said the public helped in leading to the recent arrest of a man suspected of exposing himself to a minor on campus.

“If they don’t look like they fit, or it doesn’t seem right that they’re there, challenge them or report them to someone in authority,” Johnson said.

In other crime, the Coffman Union bookstore security observed a person looking under women’s skirts and dresses last week.

Bookstore security saw the person get down on his hands and knees and crawl up to unsuspecting women. One female noticed the activity and notified staff, according to reports.

According to reports, the person was stopped and held for police. With no victim willing to pursue charges, the suspect was issued a trespass form and transported to his place of employment. He said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but did not realize that it was illegal, according to police reports.