Author: Erik Parker, Torch Staff
In the past month, three cases of armed robbery in the surrounding area of campus have been reported. These incidents all involved students, and the situation is being closely monitored by Campus Safety and the Los Angeles Police Department.
The first armed robbery occurred October 27 on Campus Road. A cheerleader and her mother were confronted at gunpoint and gave up their belongings, some of which were later recovered.
On November 7, two males with weapons demanded money from two students on Ave 46. On November 11, two males confronted and robbed two female students on York Blvd.
In all situations, victims were unable to give clear descriptions of the suspects. “There’s not a lot for [LAPD] to go,” Director of Campus Safety Holly Nieto said. She said that the cause for these “bad descriptions” was the threat of a weapon.
Nieto said that a detective is currently looking for similarities between the robberies around Occidental College and other robberies in northeast Los Angeles. She said that she believes that the first and second robberies appear to be related, but the third does not because of the age of the suspects.
The Campus Safety Department has been taking extra measures to ensure student safety. “We have been putting extra patrols out there [. . . ] creating a high visibility presence,” Nieto said. There have also been extra safety escorts because there is a greater demand for the service.
She recommends that students use Campus Safety’s escort program even though it’s “not always convenient.” She said students should walk “confidently” and in groups of three or four.
“Be absolutely aware of your surroundings,” Nieto said. “Don’t make yourself available to crime,” she added, adding that an “impaired” student walking back from a party is a “bigger target.” Nieto sent out three e-mail alerts to the Occidental College community about these armed robberies, advising students about the safety measures they should take.
She also spoke on the protocol students should follow if confronted by armed thieves. “If you are approached, give up your money,” Nieto said. “Things can be replaced.”
According to Campus Safety’s published statistics on crime in previous years, in 2006 there were four cases of armed robbery in the college’s surrounding area. In 2005 there were eight and in 2004 there were six. These cases do not exclusively include Occidental College students.
Nieto does not believe the recent armed robberies are related to the bicycle thefts that occurred on campus earlier this semester. “It’s two different kinds of theft,” Nieto said. “It’s highly unlikely.”
“We have to remember that we live in a major metropolitan area,” she said. “Crime happens.” Nieto said these crimes committed against students are a “major concern.”
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