Phone-robbing crime ring busted

The operation was a success, signaling collaboration is key.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced last month the breakup of a large Twin Cities-based crime ring that stole thousands of phones and other mobile devices around the country before selling them on international black markets.

The identification and eventual indictment of 20 members of the crime ring was a collaborative effort between many parties, including the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the University of Minnesota Police Department.

A jump in campus-area robberies last year — with thieves specifically targeting cellphones — hinted at the presence of a larger organized agenda behind each individual theft. Eventually, the UMPD became involved in efforts to pinpoint who was benefiting from campus robberies, and they helped to break up the cellphone theft ring.

University police Chief Greg Hestness pointed out in a press release why this initiative was important to University police: “Without addressing the underlying criminal enterprise creating a market for these [stolen] phones, we were not doing everything possible to protect our students.”

The efforts of University law enforcement in this case were praiseworthy, and everyone on campus should appreciate the dedication that went into identifying the culprits.

But let’s not forget that this won’t be the end of all crime on campus. As the new school year begins at the University, UMPD should continue to remain vigilant about protecting its students and employees from all forms of crime.