Police patrols increased after series of back-to-school muggings

Students reported three similar robbery attacks since Sept. 2.

University police increased patrols in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Minnesota campus this weekend in response to a string of muggings involving student victims.

University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said Friday that University police would coordinate extra efforts with the Minneapolis department.

At least three robberies have occurred near the University campus since Sept. 2 in a trend that Miner says is typical of this time of the year.

With school starting and the weather still warm, “more people are out and about, bad people and good people,” he said.

The first two robberies occurred early Sunday morning, one near the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood at around 1:15 a.m., and the other near the Superblock half an hour later, according to Miner.

University police reported another robbery early Thursday morning in Dinkytown.

The four victims — all University students — lost two iPhones, a purse and money during the attacks, in which they were physically assaulted.

Descriptions of the suspects in each incident are similar, Miner said.

“It’s possible that it’s the same group of individuals, but we’ve not been able to determine that at this point,” he said.

Avoid distraction

Miner said certain behaviors can increase the risk of students becoming victims of this type of crime.

Students should travel in groups whenever possible. If not, Miner said, students are encouraged to use the free escort service.

The risk level also increases when students are intoxicated and, therefore, unaware of their surroundings, Miner said, adding that distraction is the biggest risk factor for students.

If students are text messaging or talking on smartphones, “that’s kind of a big bull’s-eye over their heads that they make a good target,” Miner said.

Victims are encouraged not to resist if confronted by an assailant with a weapon, according to a recent University police alert.

“Your personal safety is more important than a lost wallet or cellphone,” the alert said.

Students are also encouraged to carry minimal amounts of valuables and to call 911 immediately if they are witnesses to or victims of a crime.