Police warn of winter crime rise

Students are advised to bring valuables home during winter break.

by Koran Addo

During the holidays, many University students leave campus to be with their families, take vacations or just enjoy their time off from school.

Although many students relish this time away, police said the winter holiday season makes students more susceptible to burglary and car theft.

Minneapolis crime prevention specialist Nicole Nelson said overall crime decreases in the winter months, but Greg Hestness, University assistant vice president for public safety, said burglary and theft can increase in the winter – especially during the holiday season.

Hestness said students need to be careful if they want to avoid becoming burglary and theft victims.

To protect themselves, students should take laptops and other valuables with them when they travel, he said.

Despite Hestness’ warning, some University students said they will not take any extra precautions this holiday season.

“What can you do?” sophomore Bryan Olsson said. “The only thing I can do is lock my door, and I do that anyway”

However, Nelson said students concerned about holiday crime should talk to police, who can keep them updated on crime in their neighborhoods.

Nelson said members of Community Crime Prevention/SAFE – a division of the Minneapolis Police

Department that works with the community – can also inspect houses and apartments for anything that might make them an easy target for burglars.

“We have experience finding any weak points with the entryways, windows and landscape of a property so we can help reduce the chance of being burglarized,” Nelson said.

Sophomore Dana Akerson, who lives in the Southeast Como neighborhood, said she and her roommates are considering contacting the Community Crime Prevention/SAFE team. The roommates recently had compact discs and two CD players stolen from their cars while they were parked in the garage.

“We need to sit down this week and talk about what we are going to do to while we’re on break,” she said.

Besides having their houses inspected, Nelson said, students should also take their valuables with them when they travel, or store them in a safe deposit box.

She said it is also helpful to make the house look occupied so it does not become a target for thieves.

“Have someone check on the house while you’re away; have the mail held so it doesn’t pile up; and have lights and a radio set to a timer to make the house look occupied,” she said.