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Following Spike In Violent Phone Robberies Downtown, Minneapolis Police Crack Down

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minneapolis police recently stationed more officers downtown in order to curb a significant increase in robberies this year that have sometimes involved a pack of robbers brutally attacking lone victims.

cell phone robbery
(credit: City of Minneapolis)

The Minneapolis Police Department says there have been 240 robberies in the First Precinct in 2019, a nearly 54 percent increase compared with the numbers from this time last year.

Last month, there were 23 robberies in a single week.

The robberies had a pattern, police say. Videos showed groups of teenagers and young men robbing people of their cell phones and wallets.

Often, victims were alone, intoxicated or looking at their phones. The robbers would sell the phones to kiosks for quick cash.

Generally, the robberies happened in two areas: between 3rd and 6th streets along the light rail, and between Hennepin and 2nd avenues.

The videos show brazen violence, even in broad daylight.

One surveillance video shows a man getting knocked out by a kick to the face near a light rail station. His wallet is removed from his shorts as he lays flat on the ground.

Another video, taken near Target Field, shows a victim get body-slammed, jumped on like a small trampoline, punched in the head repeatedly, and eventually ran over by a bicycle.

Since the department issued a robbery suppression detail, 16 people have been arrested, some in connection to multiple robberies. Police say that all the suspects have been charged.

Following the arrests, robbery numbers have dropped, police say. Last week, there were just three.

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