Wednesday September 9, 2020
Abdirizak Bihi, a long-time community leader and mentor in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, is calling on parents to curb crime after he was pepper-sprayed and had his car stolen.
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) – Abdirizak Bihi, a long-time community leader and mentor in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood, is calling on parents to curb crime after he was pepper-sprayed and had his car stolen.
At about 4 p.m. on Monday evening, Bihi was sitting at the Seward Co-op on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis when a teen approached his car window. For decades Bihi has worked as a mentor and leader at the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center, so he says he’s used to teens approaching him to ask about job opportunities or advice.
Bihi says when he rolled down his window, the teen told him he was “here to collect.”
“And I said, ‘Collect what?’ and they said, ‘Your car,’” Bihi said.
Bihi said several other teens surrounded his car and started pulling on the handles. That’s when the teen at his window pepper-sprayed him. At that point Bihi said he realized he was getting carjacked. He left the car with the keys in the ignition and went to look for help.
“What really scared me is that they did not look like somebody who was robbing someone. They looked very comfortable and confident. They were not rushing. They were taking their time, and that’s scary…four o’clock in the afternoon,” Bihi said.
Fortunately, Bihi was not seriously injured. But, he says, what hurts the most, is that the teens who stole his car are the same ones he would normally be mentoring and helping get training for careers. He says he’s recently heard of carjackings increasing in his neighborhood.
“Carjacking violence, especially against seniors and families, is happening. It’s spiking up in our city,” Bihi said. “There are groups now really bragging about this, how many cars they have, how many cars they are robbing of innocent people and families, and that has to stop.”
The Minneapolis Police Department doesn’t keep records specifically on carjacking. According to the Minneapolis Police Department crime data dashboard, so far in 2020, there have been 2,653 “auto thefts.” That’s about 400 more than in all of 2017 and 2018, and almost as many as all of 2019 when there were 2,873.
According to a spokesperson for the Minneapolis Police Department, as of August 31, the department had 135 aggravated robberies with a vehicle listed as “stolen,” which is “typically indicative of a carjacking, but not guaranteed.” During the same time period last year, the department recorded 43 incidents of similar crimes.
“I think it’s a wakeup call for us as residents of this city to go beyond politics and figure out how we’re going to be safe,” Bihi said.
He’s calling on parents to help curb these kinds of crimes, especially with so many students out of school and learning from home this year.
“I have a strong message for parents: we should know – I’m a parent myself of teenagers – we should know where our kids are,” Bihi said.