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Recent Surge In Brazen Robberies, Car Thefts Highlight Growing Problem In Twin Cities

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Brazen robberies and car thefts, often in broad daylight, highlight a growing problem across the city.

According to Minneapolis Police Department crime data, there have been 2,170 stolen vehicles this year through July 26. That's a 46% increase over the same time period in 2019 -- when 1,485 auto thefts happened.

There have been 886 robberies, a jump of 36% over the same time last year.

Olivia Arnold is just one of the thousands of drivers who had their car stolen this year in Minneapolis.

Her boyfriend was using it to deliver food two weeks ago near 1st Avenue and east 18th Street.

In the 10 seconds he stepped out to hand over the customer's order a thief jumped into the driver seat and took off.

"You think 'Oh this is just my side gig doing deliveries.' You don't really think anything of it. You don't think that you're going to be put in danger because of something like that," Arnold said.

Being victimized led her to seek more information through social media groups like the Uptown Crime Facebook page.

"That's kind of where I realized this has been happening a lot lately," she said.

The page is packed with personal and witness accounts of recent carjacking's and strong arm robberies.

One woman had her purse ripped away from her outside an Aldi in broad daylight Sunday. The victim's apparent sister posted on the Uptown Crime page that the thieves put her in chokehold in order to wrestle away the purse, then jumped into a getaway car.

"What we're hearing again and again is people don't want less public safety, they want better public safety," said Steve Taylor, a south Minneapolis resident who moderates the Uptown Crime page. "When (City) Council has their own armed security and community members are being robbed at gunpoint often in broad daylight, that just seems unfair."

He feels the stats prove his point.

In the 3rd Precinct on the city's south side, robberies have more than doubled this year to 347 compared to this time last year when there was 163.

Car thefts are up 67%, the largest increase of the five precincts. Just west in the 5th Precinct, robberies and car thefts both jumped 47% compared to 2019. Based on the numbers, defunding or eliminating MPD isn't the answer to Taylor.

"I think we need more police. Of course we need reformed police and better police that police all of Minneapolis equally, keep everyone equally safe from violent criminals," Taylor said.

After his interview, our camera caught a road rage incident involving a baseball bat at the corner of Franklin and Nicollet Avenue.

This incident during the daytime and the others crimes have made Arnold nervous about a simple grocery store trip. She even stopped carrying a purse.

"We just want to be able to feel safe in our community again," she said.

Police said some of the robberies are being committed by the same groups. They're working to identify the groups and find out which crimes they are connected to.

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