Yesterday, someone who works in downtown Minneapolis's LaSalle Plaza got in touch with City Pages to let us know about an alert being distributed by building officials about a purported string of daytime cell phone thefts.
The tipster told us that building workers "heard that at least eight people were robbed yesterday during the lunch hour alone" and that both Target and the University of St. Thomas posted warnings about the crime spree.
But turns out it was all a big miscommunication, according to John Elder, public information officer for the Minneapolis Police Department.
Long story short, Elder said it appears a Target employee was perusing the MPD's website and came across an undated crime alert about skyway robberies in the LaSalle Plaza area. The Target person thought the alert was new and informed co-workers about it, but it was actually more than a year old.
"It kinda took off from there and grew into a life of its own," Elder said, adding that Wells Fargo also sent an alert to its employees because of the false alarm.
"I got everybody's reports from [Tuesday], and there was nothing about any robberies in the skyway, and I would've been notified," Elder continued. "I understand one person getting robbed and not reporting it, or even two people not reporting, but we're not going to get seven or eight not reporting robberies."
Elder also said a fearful game of telephone was taking place as the story spread around the downtown business community.
"The number [of incidents] has inflated with the tellings," he said. "At first it was five robberies, then six, then seven, eight, nine -- it's gotten a little juicier."
Elder said that as a result of the misunderstanding, the MPD will make sure that all crime reports posted on its webpage are dated from now on.