Reports of three vehicles stolen from homes in Edina over the weekend have spurred increased patrolling in certain neighborhoods of the city.

Auto thefts are up over 25% this year, with 62 reported so far in 2021, compared to 49 at the same point last year, according to a city news release. The recent incidents, including thefts from vehicles, has prompted the Edina Police Department to do more patrols in the neighborhoods of Country Club and Indian Hills, the targets in recent thefts.

The vehicles stolen over the weekend, Nov. 13-14, were unsecured with keys left inside, according to a city spokesperson, Dan Reisig. The cases involving the stolen vehicles are still under active investigation, though two of the three vehicles have been recovered, Reisig said in an email. No arrests have yet been made, as of Nov. 19.

The three vehicles were reported stolen during the day on the 5100 block of Arden Ave., 5100 block of Indianola Ave. and 6600 block of Iroquois Trail, Reisig said.

As of Nov. 19, one additional vehicle was also stolen on the 5500 block of Halifax Lane that has since been recovered. The vehicle was also stolen in a similar way to the others, having been unlocked with keys inside, Reisig said.

The detective assigned to auto thefts in Edina, Ben Wenande, is working on the cases alongside other metro-area agencies, according to a city press release. The city of Edina received a state-funded grant for Wenande’s position earlier this year.

Auto thefts typically refer to situations where the owner of the car is not present, while carjacking refers to when a person is forced or threatened to give up their vehicle. Carjackings in Minneapolis, Edina’s neighbor to the northeast, has been on the rise. So far in 2021, Minneapolis has reported nearly 500 carjackings, according to the Star Tribune.

There have been no reports of carjackings in Edina this year, Reisig said.

Edina Police Chief Todd Milburn said in a city news release that the auto thefts in Edina are “crimes of opportunity.”

During an Edina City Council meeting Nov. 16, Milburn noted that in these auto thefts, suspects had shown up in already-stolen vehicles and were scoping out the neighborhood for targets. After a couple of neighbors noticed, the police were called to the area. The vehicles fled, which caused a police pursuit until it became too dangerous to continue the chase, he noted. Even though a pursuit ends, police still look to identify suspects involved, he said.

Fifty percent of stolen cars are used to commit other crimes, Wenande said in a city “Beyond the Badge” video, which was presented to the council.

Through the state-funded grant for Wenande’s position, Edina is now connected to a regional task force, which allows the detective to have access to information on emerging patterns, other resources and technology on these types of thefts, Milburn said.

“We’re well-positioned to deal with any other upcoming, emerging trends that we may see here in this community, but I also want to assure the council here and residents that were going to aggressively enforce and hold those accountable that are responsible for these crimes,” Milburn told the council.

The auto thefts are “troublesome to our residents and frightening, frankly,” Mayor Jim Hovland said.

The city is employing a “two-pronged strategy to address the particular issues we encountered over the weekend,” City Manager Scott Neal said. That includes police work and encouraging the public to take steps to prevent the thefts.

Prevention tips

The city provided the following tips, as noted in a news release:

• Take keys out of the vehicle; they should not be left in the spare key holder.

• Do not leave a vehicle running unattended, even in colder months.

• When parked, close and lock all of the windows and doors.

• Find well-lit areas to park, when possible.

• Valuables should not be left in the vehicle, especially if they can be seen from outside of it.

• Close garage doors even when someone is at home.

Installing an audible alarm system and having a visible anti-theft device is also recommended by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the news release said.

Residents are asked to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the Edina Police Department.

“We are in this together and with help from our residents, Edina Police will continue our enforcement to hold offenders accountable for their criminal acts in our city,” Milburn said in the news release.

– Follow Caitlin Anderson on Twitter @EdinaSunCurrent

Clarification: This story was updated to clarify that the recent incidents, not necessarily the rise in incidents, prompted more patrolling in certain neighborhoods. This story was also updated to include additional information on the thefts.

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