Rendezview Video to close after repeated robberies

Tim Sturrock

Rendezview Video on Como and 15th avenues will close its doors for good after being robbed Sunday at knifepoint for the fourth time in six months.

“I promised myself that if something else happened, I would be done with this store. I’m fed up,” said Jody Yarmoska, the store’s owner. She said she plans on liquidating the store’s stock but isn’t sure how or when.

Hans Homstad, who runs the store with Yarmoska, said he believes two men working together committed the four robberies. “Apparently the guy who robbed us Sunday night matched the description of the person who was responsible for the first two robberies,” he said.

Homstad said the men at each robbery demanded money with a steak knife and fled east down Como Avenue.

As a result of the first three robberies, Yarmoska moved the counter to the back of the store, installed cameras and a silent alarm, and began closing earlier – measures the Minneapolis police Safe Unit recommended.

But Homstad said the store didn’t follow one Safe Unit recommendation: adding cameras and lighting to the outside of the building.

Last week Yarmoska moved the counter to the front of the store after losing videos to shoplifters. She said the store can’t sustain itself after losses from these thefts. Often throughout the six-month period, rare videos costing more than $100 were stolen. During the first armed robbery, the robber took $500. This time the robber made off with $200.

Homstad said he has been a member of the Southeast Business Association for several years and has never heard of problems in the area aside from the robberies of Yarmoska’s store.

He said he is upset with the city and the police. “I am disappointed with the police; there are no beat cops that walk along Como; there are no beat cops that are watching (Van Cleve Park).”

Minneapolis police Inspector Rich Stanek, 2nd Precinct commander, said one beat officer does walk Como Avenue and parts of Dinkytown but only during the day. The robberies occurred at night.

Stanek said he plans to increase police presence on the corner of 15th and Como avenues at night.

His precinct is still investigating the robbery but is having trouble with the store’s videotape.

“We don’t know if it just didn’t record or if there’s a problem with the tape or a problem with the recording equipment,” Stanek said.

For now, Yarmoska said she plans on spending more time with her family.

She has posted a sign asking customers to contact the mayor’s office, 1st Ward City Council Member Paul Ostrow and 2nd Ward Council Member Joan Campbell to demand they do more to prevent crime.

Campbell said nobody called her office about any of the robberies. “My office can’t act without any information.”

This response angers Yarmoska, who also said she feels the police and the city let her down. She added that Campbell is out of touch with her ward.

“Doesn’t she read The Minnesota Daily? Doesn’t she read The Southeast Angle?” Yarmoska said.

Ostrow said, “I’d like a beat cop on every commercial corridor 18 hours a day, but we don’t have the resources.”

The low crime rate in southeast Minneapolis means fewer officers patrol its precincts, Ostrow said. “If we’re looking for beat cops, it’s going to come out of other police resources.”

Tim Sturrock covers cops and courts and encourages comments [email protected]