Campus robberies on the rise

By Sky Opila

The 2005-06 academic year showed an increase in robberies and a decrease in aggravated battery and assaults, said a University Police Department press release.

Campustown saw a 35 percent decrease in the number of aggravated assaults and batteries. In the previous academic year, the campus had 142 reported aggravated assaults and batteries. However, the most recent report shows only 93 total reported crimes.

“Many times (aggravated assault) comes out of a conflict, and alcohol is heavily involved,” said Jeff Christensen, Assistant Chief of Police for the University. “To say why that’s down or why we’re having less of them is difficult.”

Despite this decrease, data has shown an increase in the amount of robberies in the area. In 2004-05, there were 13 robberies reported in the Campustown area, which is bound by University Avenue, Windsor Road, Race Street and the railroad tracks along Neil Street. However, the recent reported data has shown an increase in robberies by two, which brings the total number up to 15.

“If there is one robbery on campus, in our eyes that is too many,” Christensen said. “If it went down 40, we’d be thrilled, but we’d still be concerned about those 15 we had.”

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Robbery is considered a crime of opportunity. Criminals watch for people who they consider easier to victimize, according to a public safety e-mail sent out by University Chief of Police Krystal Fitzpatrick. The e-mail was sent out to all students in regard to a recent string of robberies.

These robberies have not followed one specific pattern up to this point. In one case, a criminal stole a woman’s purse and ran. In another, an unknown offender asked for a cigarette, then threatened the victim.

Armed robberies, including robberies at gunpoint, have also occurred in Campustown. In general, the robberies have not had one specific type of criminal or even one specific style, Christensen said.

“People need to base their suspicions on behavior and activity,” Christensen said.

Although the police department cannot speak specifically regarding their current plan of action, there have been special details on patrol, Chirstensen said.

Even with the added detail, the police department really has not changed its overall mind set, said Lt. Skip Frost, patrol division commander for the department.

“It’s just general police work; it’s what we do,” Frost said. “We train our officers to expect the worst, and you’ll never be disappointed.”

However, no matter how much the police picks up their work, the area needs support from the community. The department is asking the community to be responsible for their own safety and report anything suspicious.