Popular Instagram page captures crimes big and small near Minneapolis light rail stop

"Instead of looking away, it's time to say, 'Hey, we can do better than this,'" the homeowner told Alpha News.

Just some of the hundreds of crimes, big and small, that Karen the Camera has captured. (Photos courtesy of Karen the Camera)

Dealing drugs, ditching stolen cars, and carrying stacks of stolen bikes — these bizarre and often illegal acts have played out on video near one south Minneapolis lawn all year.

“Karen the Camera” has recorded it all. “Karen” is an elaborate security system that was set up by the homeowners who live near a light rail stop. They don’t want to be specific about their location due to safety concerns. It’s also why we are not using their names. They were guests on the Liz Collin Reports podcast to discuss what they’ve recorded and posted to their popular Instagram page that’s currently followed by more than 5,000 people.

The homeowners moved to Minneapolis eight years ago so they could take advantage of the light rail and live on what they thought would be a quiet cul-de-sac. When their street started to get more foot traffic, they added just one camera. As years went by and crimes increased, they beefed up the security system. They now have 11 cameras covering their property.

From felony crimes to cute wildlife, the cameras have recorded a wide range of action. They’ve recorded thieves taking off with packages to people smoking crack. They’ve spotted urinating, even defecating on public property. The homeowners have posted more than 100 videos to their page during the first year.

“Nothing surprises us anymore,” Karen’s owner said.

They said they started recording because their friends didn’t believe them.

A stolen Bobcat from a construction site was recently ditched at their property, Karen’s owner recalled.

In the case of the stolen Bobcat, the community helped solve the crime once the video was released.

“Our cameras have really helped my husband and I figure out where the problem places are,” Karen’s owner added.

The homeowners have passed a lot of the video on to police, Metro Transit and city officials.

Karen’s owners said Metro Transit and Minneapolis police have always been responsive. However, city officials like Mayor Jacob Frey and their council member, Andrew Johnson, have not.

Most of the time, if they do reply, city officials say the problems are citywide and there’s not much they can do.

“I don’t think that’s acceptable. They are the ones who have created this problem. They are allowing this issue to be pushed onto Metro Transit that is not designed to deal with homelessness and drug use,” the man in Karen’s life told Alpha News.

The homeowners have modified landscaping and trimmed trees to provide better lighting.

“Some of this was always going on before but the city has really changed since George Floyd and the pandemic,” Karen’s owner said.

They’ve noticed a lot more drug use and people roaming around ever since.

Karen’s owners also try to lighten the mood by adding humorous music but said there is usually more of a backstory to each 30-second clip they post on Instagram.

So, why haven’t they moved?

“I like Minneapolis. I enjoy it. I like the bike paths and the community. I also don’t want to run away from the problem. If we just run away from the problem, then in a sense the poor leadership wins,” the male homeowner replied.

“Someone has to stand up and say, ‘No this is not acceptable. You can’t drive our city into the ground,'” he added.

“If I’m going to look away at everyone who is doing drugs or having mental health issues, that’s not helping anybody. If everyone takes the mentality to look the other way, it’s not helping,” the female homeowner said.

“I would love for the Instagram page just to be fun things,” she added.

The homeowners believe it’s worth the money for quality cameras that sound with a tone or a voice to scare people off, so they don’t have to get involved. One such camera can cost anywhere from $1,000-$2,000, but it will likely deter crime.

“This is Minneapolis. It’s happening on quite a few blocks and alleys in the city. Instead of looking away, it’s time to say, ‘Hey, we can do better than this,'” Karen’s owner said.