Police brief Marcy-Holmes residents on uptick in crime

MPD officers discussed crime trends and safety tips with residents.

A group plays a game of pick-up basketball at Holmes Park located in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood of Minneapolis on June 22, 2016.

Zach Bielinksi

A group plays a game of pick-up basketball at Holmes Park located in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood of Minneapolis on June 22, 2016.

Hannah Ovcharchyn

Officers from the Minneapolis Police Department held a public safety meeting Wednesday night to address Marcy-Holmes residents about a recent uptick in crime near the University of Minnesota.

Minneapolis’ Second Precinct, which includes Marcy-Holmes, Southeast Como and Prospect Park, saw an abnormal spike in crime in the first two months of 2018. MPD has reported eight total robberies and 17 auto thefts in Marcy-Holmes this year. Four of those robberies were within one block of the University Lutheran Church of Hope.

MPD’s Second Precinct Inspector Todd Loining and Crime Prevention Specialist Nick Juarez addressed community members at University Lutheran Church of Hope. 

“We were worried,” Loining said. “But we started working with the UMPD, Metro Transit Police and K-9 units to add resources in particular areas.”

University Lutheran Church of Hope Pastor Barbara Johnson and Minister Nick Tangen said they are working with MPD to implement safety solutions, like more lighting, near their church. 

Loining said he considers the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood a “soft target” — it’s a poor-lit, heavily traveled area with lots of college students, some of whom aren’t accustomed to living in a big city. 

Robbers often hide behind cars, dumpsters or any large items in a dense area before confronting unsuspecting persons, Juarez said. Most of the robberies reported in Marcy-Holmes occurred at night. Students carrying backpacks and cell phones were targeted most often, Loining said. 

If confronted by a robber, Juarez advised to give in to their demands and give away any personal belongings. But he said residents should hand over their valuables slowly to better analyze the suspect and provide a description to police.

ULCH member Kirsten Mebust said she thinks Marcy-Holmes is generally a safe area, but the increase in high-rise apartments has created a larger population that could draw more crime. 

“For the most part I feel safe,” Mebust said. “There’s just a lot of congestion, especially while driving.” 

While conducting traffic stops, Juarez said police have come across “un-wants” — groups of people from out of town who trespass at fraternity parties and apartment common areas. Some of these “un-wants” have been connected to the rise in area crime. 

To prevent more crime, Juarez recommends eliminating any distractions and walking attentively. Pedestrians looking at the ground or at a cell phone are easy targets for a robber, Juarez said. He also suggested students sign up for crime alerts and use the Gopher Chauffeur and 624-WALK services. The Gopher Chauffeur has increased its service from three to six nights a week to help students navigate campus safely.

Juarez recommends investing in pepper spray — and practicing with it — as well as a personal screech alarm that emits a loud siren noise that could deter an attack. 

“When it comes to personal safety, ‘Minnesota Nice’ goes out the door,” Juarez said. “Don’t be afraid to be rude.”