U of M Students on Edge After Recent Uptick in Crimes

Updated: 11/27/2013 7:17 PM KSTP.com By: Todd Wilson

Walking around the campus of the University of Minnesota has changed for Laura Jollie and her friend Kate Klasen.

"I'm afraid to walk home, and it's 6:30 p.m. and that's not ok," Jollie said.

Both women have heard about the sexual assault that happened early Sunday morning.

"You hear of them getting closer and closer to campus," Klasen said.

U of M police say a man wearing a jacket with a badge and police-style duty belt approached a student walking by herself off campus around 2 a.m. He claimed he was a police officer and warned the student about walking alone before offering her a ride. Once she was in the black SUV, he locked the doors and drove her to a remote place and raped her, according to the report.

Minneapolis police are investigating.

"The description that was given is a black male, 23-27 years old, medium build, having a very short or shaved head, with a chin-strapped styled neatly trimmed beard," Commander Bruce Folkens said. A similar sexual assault in Fridley is likely to be related, according to authorities.

So far this year, students have been warned in eight separate crime alerts. Five of those alerts were this month alone. The warnings range from robberies, attempted robberies and now sexual assault.

Jollie says more women are starting to feel uneasy on campus. She says the crimes have forced her to change her routine.

"I don't go out ever and I'm still afraid to walk around campus," Jollie said.

Meanwhile, the University of Minnesota is stepping up patrols after a "concerning rise in the number of crimes on and off-campus, and in the increasingly brazen nature of the criminals," according to a public safety update.

According to the U of M, UMPD logged additional overtime hours over the weekend, and Hennepin County Sheriff's officials helped with patrols. Additional resources will be in place through the end of the fall semester.

In four of the five crime alerts issued by the university in the past two weeks, victims have been walking alone between 9 p.m. and 3:40 a.m. The university is reminding students of the Campus Escort Service and the Gopher Chauffeur to keep students safe.

Before the recent crimes this fall, there was a 43 percent decrease in on-campus crime between 2002 and 2012.

According to the public safety update, the uptick in crime this fall is not unique to the U of M campus. They say it's a city-wide or even metro-wide issue.