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University area sees increase in robberies, assaults, car thefts

UMPD and MPD continue to track crime and invest in public safety.
Image by Morgan la Casse
Car thefts, assaults and robberies are increasing after seeing declines in previous school years.

Crime around the University of Minnesota has increased over the last few months, leaving the University of Minnesota Police Department (UMPD) and the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) working together to help raise awareness and limit the number of assaults, car thefts and robberies. 

As of Monday, 15 theft-related crimes, 10 car thefts and one assault were reported within the past 28 days across University neighborhoods. 

Campus Safety Coalition President Brian Peck published a report in February showing crime increasing around the University, Marcy-Holmes and Prospect Park in January, according to Coalition Director Mike Olson.

“In January, the most recent report, the year-to-date reported crimes were up 23% versus last year, which is very concerning,” Olson said. “They were up 47% over 2019.” 

Using 2019 as a baseline, Peck’s report outlined crime rates since 2019.

“It was kind of pre-George Floyd, pre-a lot of chaos in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area,” Olson added. 

Second-year student Rachael Gerszewski said the police on campus often come into the residence hall where she works. 

“I do see UMPD officers frequently come in just to check if everything’s ok,” Gerszewski said. 

The Coalition allows people to anonymously report crimes close to the University on their website if they want to go somewhere besides the University or the city. 

Dinkytown had seen decreasing trends of robberies from fall 2021 to spring 2023, University spokesperson Jake Ricker said. However, this trend has reversed this school year as robberies have increased.

UMPD is paying officers overtime to allow more patrols in Dinkytown with MPD’s support. UMPD works with the MPD to deter crime and monitor crime trends, Ricker said. 

MPD is looking to address robberies, carjackings and auto thefts, MPD spokesperson Garrett Parten said in a statement to The Minnesota Daily.

The University is investing more in public safety than ever before, Ricker said. That money has gone into the UMPD as well as safety programs like Gopher Chauffeur and 624-WALK. 

A challenge when it comes to safety around the University is jurisdictions, Olson said. UMPD only has jurisdiction over University property while the city covers the neighborhood. 

“It becomes a bit of a Swiss cheese problem,” Olson said. “With resources diminished in the city of Minneapolis, that causes greater concern in those off-campus areas around campus.” 

To combat increases in robberies and carjackings, the MPD published a Public Information Release which encouraged residents to call 911 as soon as they are able and focus on details such as license plate numbers, the appearances of suspects and the direction of travel. 

Crime apps like Citizen should be used as a resource and not as a substitute for news, Olson added. 

“We all really do need to stay united as a community, both on- and off-campus to help work through what we can do to prevent bad things from happening,” Olson said. “We have to work together.” 

This article has been updated.

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