Violent crimes around campus down in 2007

The only campus-area neighborhood to experience an increase in crime was Southeast Como.

University students may remember the dozen or so crime alerts that University police sent out last year.

They may remember the assault at Wilson Library, the homicide at the Radisson Hotel or the bomb threats at Willey Hall, Weaver-Densford Hall and 11 other University buildings on both banks.

But overall, violent crime in Minneapolis was down in 2007 by about 13 percent.

That trend has continued in 2008 with crime down another 11 percent, including a 35 percent decrease in the 2nd precinct, which includes all neighborhoods on the East Bank.

In the neighborhoods on and around campus – which house a majority of the University’s students – crime was also down last year by about 9 percent.

Only one neighborhood near campus – Southeast Como – saw an increase in crime from 2006 to 2007. Crime in the neighborhood rose by about 11 percent.

James De Sota, Southeast Como Improvement Association neighborhood coordinator, said the association has taken measures to reduce crime in the neighborhood.

The re-establishment of the safety committee was one of the association’s key crime prevention initiatives in 2007.

Committee members conducted safety walks last year, in which they talked to residents and gave them information about how to keep themselves and their property safe.

One area of the neighborhood, however, continues to be a concern, De Sota said.

The corridor of 15th Avenue Southeast from campus to Hennepin Avenue is sometimes unsafe because it isn’t well-lit in certain areas. The high volume of student traffic and the poor lighting are attractive to criminals and worrisome to the neighborhood, he said.

Even though crime in the neighborhood rose last year, only burglaries and thefts went up. All other violent crime went down or remained the same.

University police Deputy Chief Steve Johnson said theft is always the biggest crime in the University community.

Last year, thefts accounted for 85 percent of all crime on campus, compared to 87 percent of crime in 2006.

Johnson said he was happy to see crimes against people, especially robberies, go down last year.

University police Chief Greg Hestness agreed with Johnson, and said he was pleased to see robberies on and off campus decrease, but said he would like to see thefts come down too.

“In 1995 we had 1,264 thefts, so it’s more than 50 percent less than that,” he said referring to the 619 thefts last year. “But it still seems like a lot to me.”

Hestness said when the department reaches 50 officers it will start a community response team that will be responsible for analyzing community crime patterns.

In the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood just beyond the West Bank, crime was also down in 2007 and everything but burglary declined.

Minneapolis 1st Precinct Crime Prevention Analyst Luther Krueger said one of last year’s focuses in the neighborhood was to decrease robberies because they were up in 2006.

Robberies declined 44 percent and Krueger said up to half of the people who were robbed were drunk and thus an easy target for robbers.

Minneapolis police are working with the bars in the neighborhood and trying to convince them to be more responsible. The police want bars to monitor how much they are serving so that they don’t increase potential victims, he said.

The other two neighborhoods near campus, Marcy-Holmes and Prospect Park, struggled with burglaries and thefts more than anything else, but total crime in the neighborhoods was down for the year.

Burglary in Marcy-Holmes was up 28 percent but theft was down 14 percent. Assaults and robberies also saw decline.

The numbers in Prospect Park were similar. Burglary was up 8 percent and theft was down 20 percent.