Crime Alert signs aim to reduce high number of Como burglaries

Second Precinct burglaries have increased more than 39 percent from May 2017 to May 2018.

Minneapolis police posted signs along Como Avenue SE urging people to lock their doors and keep lights on because of an uptick in burglaries in the area.

Tony Saunders

Minneapolis police posted signs along Como Avenue SE urging people to lock their doors and keep lights on because of an uptick in burglaries in the area.

by Hannah Ovcharchyn

Neon yellow Crime Alert signs around Southeast Como are a new community outreach tactic by the Minneapolis Police Department to combat the high rate of burglaries in the area.

MPD Crime Prevention Specialist Nick Juarez said these bright, eye-catching posters placed around Como are to draw attention to the simple strategies homeowners can use to prevent crime, particularly burglaries. Incidents of burglaries, the second most common crime in the neighborhood behind auto thefts, have risen significantly in the past year. 

“We wanted good visibility that shows there’s been burglaries in Como and the police are aware,” Juarez said.

The number of burglaries in the Second Precinct, which includes Como, Prospect Park and Marcy-Holmes, have jumped more than 39 percent from May 2017 to May 2018, according to the MPD crime dashboard. There have been four burglaries in the Como neighborhood in the past week alone.

Cody Hoerning, Southeast Como Improvement Association board member, said burglaries are incredibly common around the neighborhood.

“Theft, theft involving a motor vehicle and residential burglary comprise nearly 75 percent of all crime that takes place in the Como area,” Hoerning said in an email. “These are crimes that can largely be prevented with simple actions.”

The majority of burglaries in Como occur when homeowners fail to lock their doors, Juarez said. Burglars tend to enter open homes late at night when residents are asleep and steal readily available valuables.

Homes in Como are often occupied by several people, which can create confusion. It can be hard to determine if a noise heard in the middle of the night is a roommate or a burglar, Juarez said.

It’s also difficult to prevent burglaries when residents fail to report to the police, Juarez said. Residents often turn to online community forums, like a neighborhood Facebook page or the Nextdoor mobile app to air their concerns, he said. 

Although this creates awareness among residents, Juarez said it’s strongly encouraged to file a report with MPD so officers can be aware.

“If there’s someone in the garage you don’t know, call the police,” Juarez said. “That way we can increase patrol and direct our resources to keep residents safe.”

Officers in the Second Precinct first used these signs in fall 2017 after a string of burglaries afflicted Northeast neighborhoods. MPD found great success in making residents aware and decided to bring the tactic to Como, Juarez said. 

Como has a large student population, who mostly rent houses or apartments for short periods of time. Because reaching these residents, who may not be involved in the community, can be a challenge, MPD decided to utilize the Crime Alert signs in the neighborhood. 

Como resident Sasha Hendrickson said it was easy to see the Crime Alert signs when walking down Como Avenue SE.

“Since I’m renting just for the summer, I don’t have many connections in my neighborhood,” Hendrickson said. “But the signs have opened up an avenue to talk about crime with my neighbors.”