Crime is spilling into some Minneapolis suburbs and causing anxiety among residents, a recent data analysis found.
"A large number of crimes can be a one-person crime wave, particularly in a suburban area with a relatively small population," Chris Uggen, professor and criminologist at the University of Minnesota told the Star Tribune. "The numbers then go up, and the fear goes up, but it can still be a relatively small number of people who are actually doing the activities."
Violent crimes have surged in Minneapolis and St. Paul, with a combined record 135 homicides last year, the outlet reported. While violent crimes in the suburbs of the Twin Cities have not reached the same levels, data compiled by the Star Tribune examining 50 of the largest suburbs over the last five years finds homicides have increased in some suburbs.
A combined 51 homicides were recorded in 2021 across suburban areas - with the majority occurring in northern metro suburbs - compared to 22 in 2019. The majority of suburbs did not see an increase in violent crimes, but nearly all suburbs saw increases in property crimes, such as car and catalytic converter thefts, the report found.
"There was a general notion going around that there was an increase in some suburbs in terms of violent crime," Star Tribune data journalist Jeff Hargarten told KARE 11 of the data. "We really wanted to quantify that."
He said the crime began increasing in 2020, pointing to the riots and protests of that summer, the coronavirus and various high-profile deaths during police interactions.
"You have the unrest, you have the pandemic, you have the deaths of George Floyd, the next year you have the death of Daunte Wright," said Hargarten. Minneapolis was at the center of the protests and riots of 2020 following the death of George Floyd during an interaction with city police.
Though violent crimes in the suburbs have not hit the same levels as the Twin Cities and have even remained steady in some residential towns, some locals are fearful.
Crime is "really out of control," Sharon McWhite told the outlet. "I don't know if it's going to get worse this summer."
McWhite was the target of a purse snatching crime last year in a suburban grocery store parking lot and has seen three of her family members experience thieves stealing their cars from their driveways over the last year.
To her, crime is not "flat" in the suburbs.
"The way people think about things and view it is their reality," she told the Tribune. "If it happened to you, it's not flat. And it's not flat to people who know you."
Just this week, two teenage girls in the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley were carjacked by two boys with a gun while trying to get gas. Police in the town have been investigating five carjackings where the suspects almost always wore ski masks and were armed with handguns, KARE 11 reported.
Crime across the country spiked in 2020 as the nation saw protests and riots in nearly every major city and dealt with ongoing lockdowns and the pandemic. The U.S. experienced a nearly 30% jump in murders in 2020 compared to the previous year, according to FBI data, marking the largest single-year increase in killings since the agency began tracking the crimes.
By 2021, homicides continued to rise in major American cities across the country, with the Council on Criminal Justice releasing data in January showing a 5% increase in homicides compared to 2020’s wildly bloody year.
This year, police departments across the country are bracing for crime surges with President Biden calling on law enforcement to beef up departments before the summer months, when crime typically spikes.
"I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. To every governor, every mayor, every county official, the need is clear, my message is clear: Spend this money now that you have," Biden said last month.
"Use these funds we made available to you to prioritize public safety," he continued. "Do it quickly, before the summer, when crime rates typically surge.