Recent car thefts consistent with years past

The Hamline-Midway community, as well as the greater Twin Cities, has seen an increase in car theft recently. This car theft is similar to what is experienced in years past, though how it is being perpetrated has changed.


Cait Quinn
Englewood Avenue is a street that is located on the south side of Hamline University’s campus. It has a convenient location that is close to the main buildings and resources at Hamline and attracts a lot of visitors and their vehicles.

Anika Besst, Senior Reporter

Hamline Public Safety (HPS) has had four reports of car thefts so far in 2021. Two of the cases involved cars left running and unattended. One case was a carjacking on campus. The last involved students a few blocks off the Hamline campus and was reported to HPS. It is Director of Public Safety, Melinda Heikkinen’s understanding that the St. Paul Police Department has made arrests in all these cases.

The recent uptick in crime has been consistent with what the entire Twin Cities have faced, and what has been seen in years past. The 2020-21 academic year has seen seven reported auto-theft incidents at Hamline, whether it was break ins or car thefts. This is similar to the 2019-20 school year, which was at eight at this time last year. The 2019-2020 school year had 13 overall. 

To combat the rise that occurs around this time of year, HPS has increased patrols both on foot and in their vehicles, as well as increasing the watching of surveillance. The public safety directors of local universities such as St. Thomas and Macalester have also been in communication about incidents they are experiencing so they can track and report incidents faster. 

The Learning Garden, located next to the Hamline Church on Asbury Avenue, has experienced auto theft recently as well. When parents are dropping their children off, the subjects work fast to break in and steal whatever they can. Since the surveillance cameras of the area do not reach that far, there is often no way of knowing what happened. 

In the fall of 2019, current junior Matea Simonson had her car stolen from parking lot E near West and East Hall and Peterson dormitory. She later found it totaled a few blocks off campus. 

“These are Hamline students, and it’s no secret, Hamline is an expensive college to go to and so it’s like, not many of us can really afford the potential damages or not to have a car,” said Simonson.

Earlier this school year, a student had their car stolen from the Hamline Apartments underground parking lot. Many have wondered how something like this can happen since both the building and garage doors are locked. The subject who stole the car piggybacked into the building, traveled down to the ramp and stole the car from there. 

This “piggybacking” occurs when a person enters behind a student after they have swiped their card to enter a building. It is at times unavoidable and HPS reminds students they can always call them if they believe someone piggybacked in. 


A few outliers could have possibly played into the recent number of auto-related theft. One of which is the cold spell the area recently encountered. Historically, when this cold weather occurs, more car-theft rings arise. Another possibility being the spike in rhodium prices. 

“A vehicle’s catalytic converter contains the element rhodium.  The market price of rhodium fluctuates, but can sometimes compete with the precious metals we’re more familiar with, like gold and platinum,” said Marc Scholten, visiting assistant professor in the chemistry department. “I do not know if recent vehicle thefts are motivated by the price of rhodium, but there is value that can be harvested from these vehicle parts.”

On Feb. 12, the Dean of Students office sent out an email about best practices to keep students and property safe.

If you experience car theft or crime in any way, HPS can be reached at 651- 523-2100 or by email