Sex assault near University of Minnesota ups safety awareness - Fox 2 News Headlines

Sex assault near University of Minnesota ups safety awareness

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Location of sex assault as provided in the university-issued Crime Alert. Location of sex assault as provided in the university-issued Crime Alert.

Awareness is one of the first steps to addressing any problem, and a recent alert about the sexual assault of a University of Minnesota student has the community taking notice and talking safety.

The area has certainly seen a lot of crime this year, and many are wondering what is being done to make things safer.

It's not unusual for the university to send out crime alerts to keep students in-the-know about trends near campus, but the alert sent out on Monday night made many sit up and pay close attention because many felt like they could put themselves into the shows of the 19-year-old woman who was attacked by strangers while walking home from a party early Sunday morning.

Investigators say the woman was walking home alone when three men approached her. One struck her and sexually assaulted her while the other two acted as lookouts. No arrests have been made so far.

In response, both University of Minnesota police and Minneapolis police have stepped up patrols in the area while investigators work to find the suspects.

Although officers insist that stranger assaults are rare, police did acknowledge the incident follows a string of armed robberies in the area involving small groups of people. At this time, the sexual assault is not believed to be related to the robberies, but students admit they are growing increasingly uneasy.

According to Minneapolis crime statistics, the southeast corner of the city has seen an increase in the number of rapes, robberies and arson while other crimes, such as assault and theft, are down.

Public safety officials are taking the time to stress safety tips, such as walking with a group, keeping smartphones out of sight and making sure headphones don't drown out the sounds of the surroundings. Police warn that many perpetrators look for crimes of opportunity, and are more prone to someone who appears distracted.

A spokesperson for the Southeast Como Improvement Association said half the people in the neighborhood are new residents, adding that many are young adults who have been learning life lessons the hard way.

If a student doesn't have a person or group to join up with, police recommend calling the Campus Escort Service at 612-624-WALK for a free security escort.

The campus security escorts are available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, and the Gopher Chauffeur is another option available to students on weekends. That service provides free transportation to and from area destinations, and more information can be found by calling 612-388-6911.

Anyone with information about the assault is asked to call the Minneapolis Police Tip Line at 612-692-8477 and reference case MP 13-357304.

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