Nuisance crimes drop during strike

Koran Addo

Business for Minneapolis’ pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers was down during the bus strike, city officials said.

Minneapolis police officer Ron Reier said the city saw a significant drop in nuisance crimes such as misdemeanor theft, disorderly conduct and some felonies such as drug dealing during March and April, when the transit strike occurred.

Other crimes such as drug possession, assault and burglary increased slightly or stayed relatively the same citywide, according to police records.

Lack of opportunity can explain the difference between crimes that dipped while crimes that increased, police said.

“There are three things needed for crime to occur,” Reier said. “There needs to be a victim, a motive and an opportunity. Eliminate any of one of the three and that crime will not take place.”

Fewer people loitering at bus stops and fewer people going downtown diminished the opportunity to commit nuisance crimes, city officials said.

Reier said some people, such as pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers soliciting business, use bus stops as areas to conduct illegal activities.

During the strike, police officers took special note of people hanging around bus stops because they had no reason to be there, he said.

Other high-nuisance crime areas such as Nicollet Mall and Block E downtown saw a similar reduction in crime because fewer people were frequenting these areas, Reier said.

While crime in most of Minneapolis was on the decline, the University Police Department did not see any significant changes during the strike other than an increase in bike thefts, police said.

University police Lt. Chuck Miner said it is possible the increase in bike thefts could have resulted from the strike, but is more likely because of the warmer weather.

The Minneapolis Police Department’s 2nd Precinct, which serves the neighborhoods surrounding the University, also did not experience a decrease in crime during the strike.

Crimes such as burglary, aggravated assault and robbery increased in March around the University, police said.

Police officials also attributed these increases to the warmer weather when there are more people spending time outdoors.

“We did not see any backlash,” Lt. Tami Aker said. “Some (crimes) are up, some (crimes) are down, but the strike really didn’t affect us.”

Now that buses are running again, police officials said it would be safe to assume that nuisance crime rates will rise again.

“During the strike we had less people out, which means less opportunity, less opportunity means less victims and therefore less crime,” Reier said.