Four armed robberies hit campus overnight

By Danielle Gaines

Four armed robberies took place on campus between midnight and 2:40 a.m. Saturday morning. According to a mass e-mail sent by University Police Chief Krystal Fitzpatrick, the crimes took place at the following locations: in Illini Grove, the natural area located at the northwest corner of Lincoln and Pennsylvania avenues; at Busey Avenue and Nevada Street in Urbana; at Wright and White streets in Champaign; and at Locust and Chalmers streets in Champaign.

Two men were involved in the robberies. One man approached the victims, brandishing a hand gun, according to the email. Another man was seen standing near the scene of each crime. University Police Sergeant Brad Shock said in each case one of the men would approach a victim and ask for the time in order to distract them. The man would then pull a gun and demand valuables. In each of the incidents, items were taken, but no one was injured.

Fitzpatrick said these are “crimes of opportunity” in the e-mail, where the criminals look for those who are easiest to victimize. Shock said the men appear to be focusing on the campus area only and, in most cases, on intoxicated individuals.

Shock said all students in Campustown should consider themselves potential victims for this type of crime and should take steps to ensure their safety. He urged students to utilize the bus system and safe rides programs, walk in groups, remain sober and be aware that you may be part of a set up when you are approached by any stranger.

“We are concentrating on getting the word out so the public can be alert and aware of the situation,” he said.

The mass mail described the man holding the gun as a black male, approximately 5′ 08″ and heavyset, wearing black clothing including a black knit cap. The second suspect is described as a black male, thin and approximately 6’01”.

Shock said the department is scheduling extra patrols for the area and alerting officers of the situation. The mass mail urged students to call in any tips to Crimestoppers at 217-373-TIPS or the University Police at 217-333-1216. Students are also encouraged to report suspicious activity to 911.

Shock added that if someone does become the victim to this type of crime, they should call 911 immediately. Often victims wait until they get home or talk to a friend first, but time is of the essence in these situations.

“Calling it in after the fact doesn’t help us,” he said.