U area sees rise in number of reported car thefts this year

Nine thefts have been reported so far in 2012 — up from four in December.

by Branden Largent

Car thefts are on the rise around the University of Minnesota.

Nine thefts were reported on and around campus since the beginning of the year âÄìâÄì seven in January and two in February âÄìâÄì compared to at least four incidents last December, according to University police data.

University senior Jacob Moskowitz parked his car on Sixth and University avenues Wednesday night. When he returned Thursday evening, the car was missing.

The suspect forced open the carâÄôs back door and hot-wired it, Moskowitz said.

Four hours after Moskowitz reported the incident, police found his car in the city impound lot. He said it was unsalvageable because of the damaged ignition, and a few of his belongings were missing.

Moskowitz said he still had to pay $140 to get his car out of the impound lot and plans to scrap it for parts since it isnâÄôt worth the cost of repairs.

 Moskowitz was confused over why his car was taken, because his 20-year-old Honda Accord âÄúwas so terrible.âÄù

âÄúI donâÄôt know why theyâÄôd really want it,âÄù he said.

Moskowitz has dealt with campus-area crime before when his old house in the Como neighborhood was broken into twice last year. He also had a bike stolen on campus.

âÄúItâÄôs not a good streak,âÄù he said.

University police Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said car thefts on or near University campus are uncommon because much of the parking is on contract parking ramps, making it âÄúa hassleâÄù for thieves to get them out. Most of the thefts in the schoolâÄôs area occur in the surrounding neighborhoods, where cars are often parked on the street.

Minneapolis police Sgt. Steve McCarty said to prevent car thefts students should park their cars in garages whenever possible or park under a streetlight if street parking is the only option.

Police also reported five car break-ins around campus within the past week.

Miner said thefts from cars have been more common than car thefts in the University area âÄî GPS devices and other electronics are a prime target for thieves.

He said students should hide their valuables before parking their cars, since thieves normally break into cars with clearly visible items.