Avoid being victimized by crime with sensible behavior

FBy Kristin Hoppe

for the past few years, Minneapolis neighborhoods surrounding the University have experienced some of the highest crime levels in the area. The Minneapolis Police Second Precinct SAFE Unit offers some crime prevention advice for students living off campus: Common sense and simple security practices can help keep you and your property safe.

If you live in an apartment: Remember the main security door out front? It’s not secure when left propped open, when your neighbor buzzes in just about anybody, or when people follow you in. Keep your apartment door locked at all times. Also keep your windows closed and locked. Want some fresh air? Figure out a way to pin or bar the window securely so it’s only open six inches. The only things screens keep out are bugs.

If you live in a duplex or single-family home: Keep doors and windows shut and locked. Most burglars gain entrance through open or unlocked doors and windows. Lighting is important around front and back doors, so leave outdoor lights on overnight or use motion or light sensitive types.

If you own a car: Again, keep those doors locked. Don’t leave compact discs, electronic gadgets, sports equipment or basically anything lying out on the seats or dash. If you’re upgrading your stereo, consider the kind with a removable faceplate. Theft from vehicles is an ongoing problem around the University due to so many residents and commuters parking on residential streets.

If you own a bike: Always lock it, even if you’re only leaving it unattended for a moment. Bikes are stolen out of garages, fenced yards and front porches. Use a quality U-lock, and lock both wheels to something stationary. Better yet, store your bike inside your house or apartment unit. If your bike is stolen and later

recovered, you have a better chance of having it returned to you if it’s licensed.

If you are the victim of any type of crime: Call 911 and report it. Reported crimes are mapped out weekly at the precinct and help officers identify which areas need attention. For example, when burglaries and thefts increase significantly, members of the police department go door-to-door distributing notices in an effort to raise awareness.

Along with some of the highest crime rates in the precinct, the neighborhoods surrounding the University experience the most parties. Everyone knows that students are going to have parties, and here are a few things that every partygoer should know.

If the cops bust the party: Your cooperation can mean the difference between going home and going to jail. Many residents are advised by officers to quiet things down or send guests home. If you refuse to do either, the alternatives range from citation to arrest. Hosting or attending a noisy party are both misdemeanors, punishable by 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

If you rented the keg: As of Aug. 1, a new keg registration law requires liquor stores to label and record all beer keg sales made in Minnesota. Providing alcohol to people under 21 years old is a gross misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. Feel like being an entrepreneur? Selling cups at your keg party is selling liquor without a license, also a gross misdemeanor.

If you live in rental housing: Too many parties can get you in trouble with your landlord. After the police respond to three disruptive parties within 12 months, your address will be monitored closely. If the parties continue, the city can eventually revoke the house’s rental license and you can lose your housing. Some property owners try to avoid that process with evictions and fines for chronic party tenants. Several neighborhood associations also send letters to property owners notifying them of their tenants’ party activity.

Members of the police department give residents of chronic party houses a heads-up during peak party weekends such as homecoming and spring jam. The goal is to increase communication between students and police; it’s more productive to stop by in person to discuss expectations and enforcement before the party becomes a problem.

Kristin Hoppe is a crime prevention specialist for the SAFE Unit of the Minneapolis Police Department, 2nd Precinct. Contact the SAFE Unit at (612) 673-3204.