University area hit by robberies

Also, one student fell victim to scammers that tricked her into sending info via phone.

Nick Wicker

University of Minnesota police Chief Greg Hestness sent out a crime alert Monday following a string of weekend robberies.

Of the three robberies, two occurred on Saturday.

One incident took place on the West Bank at the intersection of Riverside Avenue and 19th Avenue Southeast, according to the emailed alert.

The alert said the victim was walking home at about 1:30 a.m. when three suspects attacked him from behind, leaving him with a potentially broken nose and without his jacket, wallet and keys.

In the other Saturday robbery that took place at about 9:45 p.m., four male suspects approached a 22-year-old man on 14th Avenue Southeast, according to a Minneapolis police report.

The men asked the victim, who is not affiliated with the University, for a cigarette before hitting him in the face and frisking his pockets for valuables, the alert read. The four suspects then took the man’s wallet and ran away.

According to the police report, officers failed to locate the suspects, but they collected digital photographic evidence.

In the Friday robbery, child psychology senior Beatriz Valladares was walking alone down Fourth Street Southeast at about 1:30 a.m. when she noticed a man following her.

“I didn’t have any intention of walking home alone; it just kind of happened,” Valladares said.

She said she believes the man must have first seen her when she started walking from a location near Mesa Pizza in Dinkytown.

Valladares, who said she was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident, said she turned right at 12th Avenue Southeast and started to yell at the man to go away or walk home.

She stayed on the phone with one of her male friends as she walked, she said, and after a few blocks, she decided to call the police instead.

“I hung up the phone to call 911 and try to make a run for it,” Valladares said. “Before I knew it, he ran up next to me and tried to grab my wristlet.”

According to a Minneapolis police report, Valladares was at the intersection of Sixth Street Southeast and 12th Avenue Southeast when the confrontation got physical.

Valladares said the man backhanded her in the face and grabbed her wristlet before she took the opportunity to run away and hide near some dumpsters.

“He was still following me at this point, and then I just kind of started screaming,” Valladares said. “One of my guy friends was already looking for me, so he was able to find me.”

Valladares said her wallet was found in the area were the incident occurred the next day, with her U Card and $60 in cash missing.

University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said the three robberies were most likely unrelated, but the department is monitoring the cases.

Scammers claim first victim

A ploy perpetrated by scammers posing as government and law enforcement officials claimed its first victim Friday.

Miner said the campus-specific scam was successful for the first time when they tricked a foreign exchange student into buying a $500 prepaid credit card and sharing its information over the phone.

He said the scammers have been calling potentially vulnerable students and pretending to be police officers in an attempt to get money.

In September, Vice President of University Services Pamela Wheelock sent a public safety update warning the school’s community about fraudulent efforts to target international students.

The caller threatened the female student, telling her she would be deported if she refused to obey commands, according to a University police report.

“It will be difficult to investigate,” Miner said. “These generally originate overseas and rarely involve a loss. In this case, it did.”