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Police: Robberies not a trend

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Despite a string of robbery reports over the past few months, local authorities say the crime isn't on the rise in the community.

In the two most recent cases - a credit union heist on Dec. 18 and a robbery at a Taco Bell on Jan. 13 - police made arrests and charges have been filed.

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Fargo police Sgt. Ross Renner said he hasn't seen a drastic increase, although the numbers did go up from 2007 to 2008.

Fargo police had 33 reported robberies in 2008, compared to 29 in 2007.

But 2007 saw a string of robberies at convenience and liquor stores over a period of three months, leading to an increase compared to the 19 robberies reported in 2006, according to police statistics and Forum archives.

Statistics show burglary reports were on the rise in West Fargo last year. The department handled 125 reports in 2008 compared to 100 the previous year. Similar reports were down in Moorhead and Clay County, statistics show.

Area law enforcement officials are seeing signs that economic problems could lead to a spike in crime.

"I don't think it has hit quite yet," Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said, adding that he has seen an increase in alcohol-related cases he believes stem from financial issues. In the past, high metal prices led to a rash of reports of metal being stolen, Bergquist said.

"Now that (price) has dropped and our complaints have dropped," he said.

Cass County has received more reports of stolen gas and shoplifting lately.

In the shoplifting cases, some are cases involving older suspects, which is less common, Cass County Sheriff's Capt. Rick Majerus said.

"I would think they just don't have the money to spend like they used to," he said.

The recent robbery of a taxi driver at knifepoint in Fargo may have stemmed from economic problems.

When police approached a suspect a few blocks from the reported incident, the man threw items to the ground and said, "I did it because a guy has gotta eat," Cass County District Court documents state.

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