U police apprehend suspects in string of purse, wallet thefts

Rocky Thompson

University police apprehended three female suspects Tuesday afternoon in connection with a string of purse and wallet thefts on campus.

Police arrested one suspect on a felony theft warrant and another on a misdemeanor theft warrant. The pair remains in the Hennepin County Jail, while authorities released the third suspect with a citation.

“Police searched the car and found two wallets or purses that belonged to University employees,” said University police Lt. Chuck Miner.

University police released a bulletin Jan. 17 warning the community of a scam involving two women stealing wallets and purses from campus offices.

According to the bulletin, one suspect would pilfer victims’ property while the other distracted them outside their offices, asking for directions.

Miner said the police have been investigating the case for approximately one month.

“We’ve been working on tracking down credit accounts that were attempted to open with victims’ IDs,” Miner said.

Police apprehended the suspects after a Weaver-Densford Hall employee called police Tuesday to report two suspicious people in the building.

“We began looking for them,” Miner said, “and an officer saw them leaving the building.”

He said police pursued on foot, and when the driver saw an officer next to the car, she sped away, nearly hitting the officer.

Miner said the driver would likely be charged with fleeing police and second-degree assault, both felonies.

Police continued pursuit in a car, and the suspect stopped after hitting a vehicle near the intersection of Delaware Street and University Avenue, Miner said.

One of the suspects, he said, had her child in the car while trying to escape. He said the child was about one year old.

In other police news:

Plainclothes University police arrested two men for ticket scalping Feb. 12 before the Gophers men’s basketball game.

A 41-year-old Brooklyn Park resident approached the officers to sell tickets over face value, according to the police report.

The officers confiscated eight tickets and $420. Police arrested the seller, according to the report.

Miner said police are trying to stop scalping but know it will continue.

“They were getting really blatant this year,” Miner said, adding that scalpers sold tickets in front of police directing traffic.

He said University police arrest scalpers approximately once per semester and expect more arrests this semester.

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University police cited Seth Skiles, a first-year student living in Riverbend Commons, for disorderly conduct. Police responded to a call that Skiles was snowboarding next to Coffman Union.

Skiles said police called him to their car after he had gone off a jump next to the Coffman Union stairway leading to the river.

He said police pointed to a bare spot on the ground and told him he was destroying University property.

Skiles said he told police he rides his snowboard on snow and not dirt.

He said the police told him snowboarding is just like skateboarding and then confiscated his snowboard for evidence. They told him he could pick it up the next day.

“If you’re damaging property, then it could be construed as a crime,” Miner said.

He said the Board of Regents hasn’t made rules specifically prohibiting snowboarding and he is not sure why officers confiscated the snowboard.

Skiles said he talked to a lawyer at the University Student Legal Service and is going to fight the ticket.

A University officer pulled over a 41-year-old minister on Friday near the intersection of Third Street and Cedar Avenue South for having altered license tabs, according to the police report.

The minister used colored electrical tape as year-tabs matched to the tabs for the last four years, the report said.

Officers found the man’s license tabs expired 16 years ago. The man told police he never got around to renewing them, according to the report.

Police towed the vehicle to the impound lot. The officer cited the minister for not having a valid driver’s license and illegal license plates.

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