St. Paul residents, business owners air concerns over crime

Business owners and St. Paul residents are worried after a spike in crime is impacting parts of the city.

Tuesday night, a meeting was held for residents to talk with law enforcement.

Without customers from events at the Xcel Energy Center and regulars from downtown businesses, business has slowed along West Seventh Street, but crime has not.

Pat Boemer, of Patrick McGovern’s Pub, said vandals and panhandlers are a more regular occurrence around the bar.

The businesses that are open say they’ve seen more people loitering along the streets and, along with it, more nuisance crime.

Disturbance calls for service along West Seventh Street in 2021 are up 16 percent this year compared to last, as are other crimes in the central district of St. Paul.

St. Paul Police say commercial burglaries are up 55 percent compared to 2020 and auto thefts are up just over 36 percent.

The numbers are concerning in the western district as well, which includes nearby Cathedral Hill.

While thefts are down 0.6 percent, robberies and carjackings are up 84 percent. Commercial burglaries are up 108 percent.

At the community meeting with police in that district Tuesday night, community members spoke out about crime they’ve seen on the news and on social media apps like Nextdoor.

The senior commander outlined some positive news, saying there’s been a decrease over the past few weeks in residential and commercial burglaries. They warned the public, however, that they must stay vigilant.

"Our recommendation would be to walk with a group as opposed to alone," said Salim Omari, the patrol commander of the Western District of the St. Paul Police Department.

St. Paul Police say they’ve been working closely with people and businesses in the areas to address crime. Many of the crimes appear to be crimes of opportunity. As a result, the department says they’ve been closely monitoring CCTV up and down West Seventh Street, increasing patrols in key areas and proactively conducting details to deter crime and find those responsible.