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Brittany Lawonn, Published January 05 2009

Twin Cities crime could spread to area, police say

Minneapolis ranked No. 20 on a recent list of cities with the highest crime rate, and police say that activity could spill over into the Fargo-Moorhead area.

It’s not uncommon for criminals from larger cities to bring activity to the region, authorities say.

“There’s actually quite a bit of connection to the Twin Cities,” said Fargo police Sgt. Jeff Skuza. “Fargo sits at the intersection of two interstate highways, so we’re gonna bump into some stuff.”

Skuza cited known links involving prostitution, narcotics and stolen cars, saying authorities recovered a vehicle in Minneapolis recently that had been stolen from a Fargo dealership.

A string of burglaries last spring also involved a Minneapolis man facing 14 felony charges in connection with the case, Skuza said.

But it’s not just criminals who come to the region from bigger cities, said Mike Reitan, West Fargo’s assistant police chief.

“Occasionally what we have happen in the metro area is somebody from Minneapolis or the Chicago area will come out here to cool out, to get out of the limelight,” Reitan said.

Often law enforcement will encourage people to come to the metro area to stay with family if they have been a witness or a victim of a crime, he added, saying the local community might be safer for them.

“Sometimes it’s the bad guy that comes up here to hide,” he said.

That was the case in August 2007, when a Louisiana pair suspected in the death of a Wright County, Minn., woman passed through the area.

The woman’s vehicle was found in the Fargo Wal-Mart parking lot, and the two were eventually arrested in central North Dakota.

Minneapolis was ranked 20th in the annual CQ Press crime rate rankings. The rankings are done based on calculations using six crime categories: murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft, according to CQ Press. The study uses FBI crime statistics for cities of at least 75,000 residents that reported data.

Fargo received a 262nd ranking for city crime, according to the study.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541