Burglaries reach five-year high

Police have increased patrols in Marcy Holmes and Southeast Como.

Megan Nicolai

The string of house burglaries in the Marcy Holmes and Southeast Como neighborhoods continues, with the July total âÄî 49 âÄî the highest monthly total in more than five years.

Five house burglaries were reported in the last week, a waning from earlier weeks, when as many as 16 house burglaries were reported in the neighborhoods.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Steve McCarty said police have increased patrols in the area, including one âÄúburglary suppression carâÄù that scans each neighborhood for suspicious activity.

âÄúIn some of these cases, the suspect might not look like a suspect,âÄù McCarty said. âÄúThey might do a good job of blending in.âÄù

Officers have started looking at each case individually to see if they could open an investigation into the string of house burglaries. But many of the reports lack sufficient witness descriptions or evidence.

âÄúItâÄôs hard for investigators if thereâÄôs nothing to follow up on,âÄù McCarty said.

Bonnie Ausk, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, was in her room at the Gamma Eta Gamma Law House in Dinkytown early Friday morning when a man stumbled into her room.

The man, Ausk said, was acting drunk and asked for someone whose name Ausk didnâÄôt recognize. When she realized he didnâÄôt belong in the house, she confronted him.

The man ran out and met up with two friends down the street, Ausk said. Later that morning, she discovered her bicycle had been stolen from her living room.

The suspectâÄôs act of drunkenness was so convincing that Ausk believes heâÄôs used it in other burglaries. SheâÄôs worried that other houses in her neighborhood may be next.

University senior Mark LimpâÄôs house was broken into Saturday morning. He would never have expected a burglar to break in before noon, he said.

The burglar emptied LimpâÄôs roommateâÄôs laptop bag, stuffed it with an Xbox, and casually walked out of the house. Limp said he believes the burglar may have used the same method before.

âÄúWith the laptop bag IâÄôm sure he looked like a student,âÄù Limp said.

After talking to several other residents in the area, Limp discovered his neighbors had suffered from a similar crime just a few months prior.

âÄúCollege kids are easy targets, I guess,âÄù Limp said.

James De Sota, neighborhood director at the Southeast Como Improvement Association, said that while he has heard of an increase in house burglaries, he was not surprised by the activity.

Burglaries, robberies and thefts are common problems in Southeast Como, he said.

âÄúThere are ebbs and flows to it,âÄù De Sota said. âÄúThose will always be issues that we struggle with.âÄù

He said he didnâÄôt think that groups of people watching and waiting at houses before invading, which many victims of both Marcy Holmes and Southeast Como burglaries have described, is a new phenomenon.

McCarty said he hasnâÄôt heard any new information concerning suspicious groups of people in the two neighborhoods. He stressed the need for residents to report any suspicious activity to police.

Even with the upswing in house burglaries, De Sota said he doesnâÄôt think that peopleâÄôs perception of the Southeast Como neighborhood is being too negatively affected.

âÄú[All it takes is] basic safety measures to prevent these incidents,âÄù he said, so the burglaries shouldnâÄôt affect residentsâÄô perception of safety.

SECIA is currently trying to educate residents about basic safety techniques, like making sure valuables are never visible and keeping doors and windows locked. Its members are walking around the neighborhood in an effort to educate, De Sota said.

âÄúThatâÄôs the first line of defense.âÄù