Cellphones, wallets and backpacks left lying in plain view on car seats and dashboards in vehicles parked in Minneapolis' Uptown district and around Lake Calhoun have been too tempting for crooks to pass up. They've simply opened unlocked car doors or broken windows to help themselves to the valuables.
During the first three months of the year, Minneapolis police have taken 226 reports of items stolen from vehicles in the Fifth Precinct, which covers the southwestern quadrant of the city and includes the Uptown area and Lake Calhoun where a majority of the thefts have occurred. That's an increase of 138 percent from the 95 reported during the first 12 weeks of 2016.
"A lot of these are crimes of opportunity," said Sgt. Corey Schmidt. "We want people to take their items with them or lock them in their trunk where people can't see them."
The crimes have happened at all hours of the day, but primarily during times when lots of people are out walking the lakes, eating dinner and attending the theater. Many of the victims come from the suburbs and may have been lax when it comes to locking car doors or hiding valuables, Schmidt said.
Schmidt said crooks are primarily looking for cash, credit cards or things such as tools, which are easy to pawn and hard to trace unless the item has a serial number or distinctive marking.
It is not immediately clear if the thefts are being carried out by individuals or a group.