Robberies on the rise on campus

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Two more robberies occurred near the University campus Monday night.
There is a rising trend of robberies close to campus and throughout Minneapolis, said Jim Long, crime prevention specialist for Minneapolis Police Department’s 2nd Precinct.

These two incidents bring the University area’s tally to at least four armed robberies in the past 18 days.

Two men approached a student on the corner of Essex Street Southeast and Ontario Avenue Southeast at approximately 9 p.m., said Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department.

The suspects demanded money and a cell phone.

The student handed over his wallet and said he did not have a cell phone, but once the suspects left on foot, he used his cell phone to call police, Johnson said.

This incident is still under investigation and anyone with any information is encouraged to call police.

In the other incident, two victims were robbed at gunpoint on 14th Avenue Southeast and Eighth Street Southeast at approximately 11:30 p.m., said Ron Reier, Minneapolis police spokesman.

Two men approached the victims and again demanded money and a cell phone.

Reier said one victim gave what was demanded, but the second victim said he didn’t give them anything.

The two suspects ran away, Reier said.

There were no injuries in either incident.

The University police are working closely with the Minneapolis Police Department, Johnson said.

There will be more officers patrolling the University area between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., Long said.

He encouraged all students to surrender their belongings to thieves when told to do so, for safety’s sake.

Also, it helps the police department because people have more time to get good descriptions, which they haven’t been able to get for these crimes yet, Long said.

University police are also doing extra patrols with plainclothes officers, Johnson said.

Johnson said University police will not send a University-wide crime alert, as they did twice last week. One alert involved an armed robbery, the other an assault in Kolthoff Hall.

Police don’t want to desensitize students to an alert’s importance by sending them out constantly, he said.

But some University students aren’t worried at all about the robberies.

First-year chemical engineering student David Sawatzky said he’s personally “not nervous.”

“I’ve gotten e-mails about it, so I know what’s going on,” he said.

Jerry Rinehart, associate vice provost for Student Affairs, said the number of incidents is “alarming.”

So far, the University has sent alerts, but it won’t this time because it’s so similar to the last robbery incident, Rinehart said.

Also, the University has posted a note to parents on the University Parent Web site that includes safety tips, Reinhart said.

First-year biomedical engineering student Jenna Shaw said she’s scared with all the robberies so close to campus.

She said she does walk by herself at night, but she always keeps her cell phone on her.

Special education sophomore Whitney Bartle said that because of campus crime she makes sure to never go out late at night by herself, but the news of the robberies didn’t shock her.

“I’m not really surprised.”