Increase in auto thefts for Elliot Park Neighborhood in 2019 leaves some students without transportation

A North Central student had his car stolen from a campus Jan. 13 in a crime all too familiar with other students and Elliot Park residents. According to the Minneapolis Police department, auto thefts are not uncommon on North Central’s campus and its surrounding neighborhood.

Sophomore business major David Englar parked his car in the two-story ramp on the south side of T.J. Jones Library. He said he shares the car with his brother, sophomore pastoral major Michael Englar.

“I noticed that it was gone when we went out and shoveled, but I just assumed that Michael had it,” David said.

David discovered that his car had been broken into and stolen after needing his car for the first time since he had parked it that Monday.

According to data from the Minneapolis Police department, Elliot Park neighborhood had 62 auto thefts reported in 2019, more than any year in the past decade. In contrast, 2018 saw only 31 reports of grand theft auto.  

Students without on-campus parking have often been victims, because they park on streets such as East 17th Street. The so-called “free street” is without parking restrictions, but borders the I-35W and I-94 fencing and gets minimal foot traffic. Students may not check their cars for extended periods of time, leaving them more vulnerable to car thieves. 

And thieves have become more brazen, stealing cars like the Englar’s, despite security being on watch around the clock. Students with cars can either buy a semester-long campus parking pass or a Minneapolis parking pass. The city parking sticker is required, because Elliot Park is designated a “critical parking” area for the city. The Minneapolis parking pass, which is cheaper than the school’s semester-long $300 parking pass, is an attractive choice for many students.

David Englar said his car was later found in a lot not far from where it was taken. The car was missing many parts such as the battery, spark plugs, all of the fuses, and the starter. Englar said the reason the thieves left his car is because a brake fluid hose broke, rendering the car too dangerous to drive off with.

North Central security says they are doing what they can to prevent thefts. They remind students to lock their car doors and to not leave possessions in the vehicle. While some students have gone ever further, purchasing wheel locks, many have just been rethinking how safe their vehicles and personal belongings are after parking, even in the campus ramps.