Four robberies hit U Monday

Police suspect one group of men is responsible for robbing several students.

Nicholas Studenski

Several University of Minnesota students were robbed in four incidents on and near campus over the weekend, according to police reports.

University police Chief Greg Hestness emailed a crime alert on Monday informing the community of the robberies, all of which occurred between 1 and 4:45 a.m. Sunday.

This is the fourth crime alert sent by University police about an armed robbery or assault in the last month.

Federal law requires UMPD to send alerts when violent crimes occur near University or student group buildings, or when crimes are an ongoing threat.

University police believe the same group of five to six men is responsible for all four robberies, the alert said. The suspects were not armed, but at least one of the victims in each robbery was injured.

University police will step up patrols following the robberies, the alert said.

In most cases, the suspects got away with the victims’ cellphones or wallets.

The first robbery occurred at Church Street and Pillsbury Drive Southeast around 1 a.m. A University student was walking to a fraternity with friends when they were robbed, the report said.

The next robbery happened at the same time around the same intersection, Minneapolis police Sgt. Bill Palmer said. The group of men stopped the victims, hit one in the face and took his iPhone, Palmer said.

The third robbery occurred around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Harvard Street and Washington Avenue Southeast. The suspects approached two people, one of whom was a minor, and hit one in the face. Palmer said the suspects tried to take the victim’s iPhone but didn’t get away with it.

The fourth robbery happened around 4:30 a.m. on a Metro Transit bus near the Willey Hall stop, according to the police report.

The suspect grabbed the victim’s cell phone from his hands and exited the bus. A security camera caught the robbery.

Despite the fact that the victims of all four robberies were in groups of two or more, the crime alert advises students that “walking with someone is still the best and easiest way to ensure your safety late at night and on the weekends.”

University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said staying sober is another way to stay safe on campus.

“Alcohol is a common theme among victims of burglaries and assaults,” he said.