UMN Campus Crime Update: Auto thefts in Cedar-Riverside continue to rise

Aggravated assaults are up in Cedar-Riverside, while thefts increased in Prospect Park.


Illustrated by Morgan La Casse

by Mohamed Ibrahim

While crime rates in Prospect Park remain low, thefts in the neighborhood have increased so far this year compared to the first half of 2018. The number of auto thefts in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood continues to grow compared to the same time frame, prompting a response by local officials.

Crime trends

Although most criminal activity is down in Prospect Park, larcenies, or thefts of personal property without the use of force, continue to increase. Such thefts have doubled last month compared to June 2018. According to Minneapolis Police Department crime data, this reflects a larger trend. The area has seen 139 total thefts so far this year, 43 percent more than the first half of 2018.

Year-to-date auto theft numbers in Cedar-Riverside increased by 153 percent, rising from 15 in the first half of 2018 to 38 as of June 30. At a West Bank crime and safety meeting July 2, MPD Lt. Nick Torborg said auto thefts remain an issue throughout the 1st precinct, but much of the activity is centered in the neighborhood.

“Kids are smart these days — they’ll figure out what car the keys belong to and the next thing you know they’re driving it down the road,” Torborg said at the meeting. “[If] people would lock their cars and not leave their keys inside, that would help a great deal.”

MPD 1st Precinct crime prevention specialist Carla Nielson said at the meeting newer cars are more likely to be stolen due to the push-to-start feature. Individuals leave key fobs in their cars, making it easier for someone to break into the vehicle and drive away, she said.

Along with auto thefts, aggravated assault numbers in Cedar-Riverside have risen compared to the first half of last year, quadrupling from six to 24 as of June 30. While robberies have decreased by more than 20 percent in the same time period, robberies spiked last month with seven instances last month, compared to one in June 2018. 

Notable incidents

A woman was assaulted Thursday night on the 800 block of 13th Avenue Southeast. The victim reported no injuries in the assault, telling MPD officers the suspect fled the scene before they arrived. 

The University of Minnesota Police Department pulled over a man July 1 at the intersection of Beacon Street Southeast and Walnut Street Southeast for driving without headlights. After noticing what resembled weapons in the man’s backseat, the officers found two BB guns, one made to look like an AR-15 assault rifle, and an 11.5-inch combat-style knife on the car floor. The officers confiscated the weapons and cited the man for improper weapons storage before releasing him.

UMPD officers responded to a report of a cell phone stolen from a car in the East River Parking Garage on June 30. After tracking the phone to East River Flats Park, officers found two individuals with a stolen vehicle and drug paraphernalia. The two individuals were arrested and taken to Hennepin County Jail.