Minneapolis Violence Up, Led By Tech Device Robberies; More Police Needed


A rash of crimes targeting people for iPhones, iPads and other technology was partly behind a surge in the number of robberies last year in Minneapolis, reports the city’s Star Tribune. The jump was part of an overall increase in violent crime in the city, but there were some bright spots: Burglaries, homicides and rapes were all down from 2012 to 2013, and overall violent crime levels remained near a 30-year low. Police Chief Janeé Harteau said the increase in robberies is disappointing, and she reminded people to take precautions. Some robberies took place on the University of Minnesota campus, where students walk around with cellphones in hand.

“We always say you don't walk up the street with a handful of money but you're pretty comfortable with having your phone in your hand, so it is about prevention,” she said. Harteau said she's assigned more officers to the robbery and assault units. She was joined by new Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said she supports funding to help increase the number of sworn officers, which is currently at 812, one of the lowest totals in the past decade. Harteau, who just finished her first year as chief, plans to continue a series of changes, including walking beats on the city's North Side. She said officers have taken the initiative, getting out of their cars and patrolling there and elsewhere in the city on foot, making it easier to meet people. Harteau said she may expand the walking beats to other parts of the city.

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