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Robbery Spree Plagues South Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- In the past two-and-half weeks, a rash of robberies have plagued three south Minneapolis neighborhoods.

There have been 17 robberies total, half of which happened in the early morning hours. The rest occurred after 6 p.m.

The robberies are taking place north of East 34th Street and south of Lake Street, and weapons like guns and knives are involved.

The Powderhorn, Cochran and Central neighborhoods have been targeted. Minneapolis Police say most of the incidents occurred along east Lake Street.

They are also starting to see some happen near the area of Chicago and Franklin avenues as well.

Police call these robberies crimes of opportunity, where unsuspecting people are approached and then robbed of their belongings.

Karen Notsch, a crime prevention specialist, spends her day handing out flyers, alerting people along Lake Street about the crimes.

"We want people to be extra careful, especially in the early-morning hours and the nighttime hours," Notsch said.

Some of the robberies involved businesses with delivery vehicles or taxis. A gun or knife was used in almost all of the robberies.

The most recent incident took place in an alleyway on the 3200 block of 15th Avenue South on Wednesday morning. A woman was sitting in a car with a small child when two men walked up. One of the men pointed a gun at her and told her to open the door.

When she refused, he busted the window. The woman was able to grab her child and run, and the two men took off in her car.

Third Precinct Inspector Mike Sullivan says most of the victims were on their cell phones or wearing ear buds, and not paying attention to their surroundings.

"When people are getting robbed, more often than not the incidents are where the victim is distracted," Sullivan said. "We've increased our patrols in the zones that we've identified."

Police are also using plain-clothes officers to do surveillance in the area. Their challenge is in the description of the suspects, which vary in race, sex and age.

Sullivan says people should always be aware of their surroundings. Also, don't be afraid to look to see who is around you.

And remember, if you are confronted, nothing is more important than your life. Let them take the property and run.

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