Sarah McKenzie

Just last month, burglaries increased tenfold at Dinkytown and Stadium Village businesses.
According to statistics released by the Minneapolis Police Department, 19 businesses were burglarized in December.
But only one or two break ins per month is typical in southeast Minneapolis, said Nicole Magnan, a Minneapolis Police officer. Magnan works with the SAFE unit, which specializes in crime prevention.
“It’s really obvious someone is scoping the area out,” Magnan said.
In all of 1998, 28 businesses reported burglaries in southeast Minneapolis, down slightly from 33 reported break ins in 1997, according to SAFE statistics.
SAFE has issued a crime alert to area establishments urging employees and residents to take stronger safety measures to minimize vulnerability.
“This is the most activity in one month I have seen in a long time,” said Robert Patrick Sr., a Minneapolis police officer who patrols Dinkytown and Stadium Village.
Patrick said it is common to see an increase in the number of burglaries prior to the holidays, but the skyrocketing crime is unsettling.
And the pace is not slowing down significantly, Magnan said. In the first part of January half a dozen more business break-ins have already been reported to the police.
Two different burglars or groups appear to be responsible, Patrick said. In most cases, he said, the burglar gains entry by forcing open locked doors or breaking windows.
In some cases, the burglar or burglars make off with thousands of dollars worth of computer equipment, Magnun said; such a pattern might indicate veteran burglars or an inside job. In other cases, the individual or individuals walked away with very little, which she said was indicative of a transient culprit.
In Dinkytown for instance, $4 in change and a boom box were the only items reported missing after a Dec. 16 break in at Dinkytown salon Hair by Stewarts, according to police reports.
Kathie King, part owner of the Dinkydale Deli, said her staff plans to expand store security after a separate Dec. 16 burglary.
The deli has implemented a new set of locks on the doors and motion detector lights to divert burglars.
Store losses after the burglary were minimal; the thief stole a $150 stereo system and small change in the till, King said.
Magnan said there is no way to completely avoid a break in, but she advises local businesses to avoid leaving large sums of cash at the store overnight. Only a select number of employees should know the combination for the store safes as well, she said.
Brad Mateer, vice president of the Stadium Village Commercial Association, said area businesses are taking the police warning seriously.
“It’s frustrating for all of us,” Mateer said. “We are making everyone aware and asking them to take extra precaution.”
Mateer owns two Harvard Markets along Washington Avenue Southeast and said he fears recent developments will tarnish southeast Minneapolis’ reputation.
“I don’t want people to give us the reputation of being a bad area,” he said.