Graffiti defaces bridge panel

Alan Butterworth

The Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi’s informational panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge was defaced last week with an encircled swastika with “SS” on both sides, according to police reports.

“This is the first time that we’ve experienced anything like this,” said Daniel Levin, fraternity president.

“We’ve been on campus only a short time,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve had to deal with anything like this.”

Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department, said such incidents are very uncommon.

“We have very few incidents of anything that might be considered hate crime,” he said.

Though this is a serious crime, Levin said, he has never felt unsafe.

“It’s very startling, because when you do feel safe and things like this happen, it reminds you that there are people who are full of hate – and that can be scary,” he said.

Officers participating in Operation NightCAP issued 38 alcohol-related citations, including ones for underage drinking and possession on campus last weekend.

During the weekend, officers issued 72 arrests and violations, including four arrests for driving while intoxicated and four open-bottle citations.

The aim of the operation is to reduce impaired driving and to reduce deaths on highways, said Lt. Mark Peterson, the director of federal and special projects for the Minnesota State Patrol.

“One of the leading causes of death in college ages is alcohol, as it relates to both binge drinking and the use of motor vehicles,” Peterson said.

The operation coincided with the “peak party hours” of the homecoming weekend.

“Officers encourage responsible behavior while celebrating homecoming,” Peterson said. “Those who neglected to exercise their safe alternatives, such as a bus or cab ride home, woke up in jail with a bad hangover.”

The number of arrests is different from previous years.

“The number of underage possessions is down, and in my mind, that’s good,” Peterson said.

Based on a three-year analysis of data, Hennepin and Ramsey counties are the top-two deadliest counties in the state for alcohol-related, fatal and serious crashes, Peterson said.

At least four different incidents of harassments – varying from phone calls to letters – occurred on or near campus this week, according to police reports.

In one case, a male caller said, “Will you make love to me?” before the resident hung up.

Johnson said students should hang up on sexually explicit phone calls.

“Don’t give them the satisfaction of any reaction,” he said.

“Sometimes people just do this randomly as a joke or a prank,” Johnson said, warning that sometimes it is targeted.

“It’s important to tell that person that this communication isn’t welcome and make a police report if it continues,” he said.

Johnson said that if students report the incident, there is a good possibility police can trace the calls. Students who receive harassing phone calls can also contact their telephone companies or residence halls to get their phone numbers changed.

A student lost $700 in an Internet “phishing” scam, according to police reports.

The student received an e-mail from what appeared to be eBay, asking her to update her credit and banking information. She completed the form with her credit and banking details and sent it. She later read the Internet address at the bottom of the page (http://tiengxua.com) and realized it was not from eBay.

Johnson urged students to not give out identifying information over the Internet without knowing whom it is being given to.

“Call your bank directly and make certain that it’s a legitimate business deal,” Johnson said.

A student woke up to find a suspect in his room. When questioned, the suspect stated she was looking for “John.” The student later discovered his cell phone and money were missing, according to police reports.

A similar burglary incident occurred earlier the same day, with the victim losing her cell phone and money.

Both incidents happened in Middlebrook Hall between 3:20 p.m. and 3:40 p.m.

To avoid uninvited guests, Johnson advises students to always lock doors when sleeping or leaving the room, even if it is only for a short while.

The University police have recovered four cell phones.

“On these two cases, we do have a suspect and are actively involved in an investigation,” Johnson said.

Five juveniles were arrested on campus this week for stealing bicycles.

Police received a call about a group of teens, 13 to 15 years old, who were “going bike rack to bike rack” and carrying several bike seats, according to reports.

One teen wore a hockey mask, according to the report. Johnson said one carried a hammer, which was used to break the locks.

All five teens were riding stolen bikes and admitted to stealing a bike that evening, according to the report.

They were cited and released, and will appear in juvenile court.

“This is a case where the public helped us by calling in when they saw something suspicious,” Johnson said.