MINNEAPOLIS - Three police agencies have joined forces to stop a rash of robberies on and near the University of Minnesota campus.

Last weekend, there were five incidents in which a group or groups of young men committed the assaults, either against individuals or other groups.

The increased patrols of the U of M, Dinkytown and Stadium village areas are in buses, in squads and on foot, both in uniform and in plain clothes.

"Metro Transit police are joining with the University of Minnesota police and with Minneapolis police," explained John Siqveland, Metro Transit spokesperson. "It started earlier this week. It will go through this weekend on a joint detail, a robbery suppression detail."

"Metro Transit police got involved early on Sunday morning," Siqveland explained. "There was a young man who had his phone stolen from him aboard a bus at about the same time this other activity was taking place."

With 40,000 students in and around the campus, officials have dubbed the area a "target rich" environment for would-be robbers.

"I will just go out with my friends," said Iris Lin, U of M Junior. "And just make sure a guy or two guys stay out with me. Just do not be alone, especially girls, do not be alone."

"It is kind of scary," agreed Fadel Naassana, U of M Senior. "I want to be living in the city, just safe."

"(The Dinkytown Businessmen's Association is) having meetings and making plans with the city and the police department to have off-duty policemen in the area," said Randal Gast, Qdoba store owner.

"There's a pretty active late night-life after the bars close until about three," said Gast. "And that is probably the time period when we have most of the problems."

In fact, the incidents reported last weekend occurred between 1 and 3 a.m.

The U of M offers a free security escort service to and from campus available 24/7 by calling 612-624-WALK or 4-9255 from any campus phone.

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