Robberies less frequent, but still a risk

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On March 3, a Case Western Reserve University Italian language professor and a friend were walking to Strosacker Auditorium for an Italian movie screening when the friend’s purse was stolen. Two days before that, a CWRU student was walking on East 123rd Street when four individuals pulled up in an SUV, got out and robbed the student of his property. Less than a month before that, two suspects robbed a student at gunpoint at the intersection of Murray Hill Road and Edgehill Road.

A total of four robberies have happened on or around campus so far this semester, but the university says these rates have not increased since December.

Cleveland isn’t the most dangerous city to live in, but it is close; some sources place it in the top 10 most dangerous cities in the United States.

Fourth-year Arjun Venkatesh was with a friend his sophomore year when they were robbed at gunpoint on East 118th Street. Venkatesh said being robbed was a wake-up call to him, coming from his hometown where people can leave the keys in their cars and their houses unlocked.

“It kind of made me realize I’m not in that little safety bubble anymore, that sort of neighborhood,” he said.

A university spokesperson reminded students to travel in groups, stay aware of their surroundings and not use electronics while walking at night. They also urged students to use Safe Ride shuttles, the CWRU Shield app, blue-light phones and call boxes. They also noted that students should resist the urge to fight back, as they cannot know what may happen.

This advice will not help students in every situation, though.

Venkatesh was with a friend and they weren’t on their phones or distracted by electronic devices.

“Definitely … when you’re walking around, even if you are with a group of people, keep your wits about you,” said Venkatesh. “Don’t zone out. Be aware of your surroundings.”

According to a university spokesperson, students who find themselves the victim of a robbery should contact the police immediately afterwards. Police will ask for identifying information, so trying to remember as much about the suspect’s physical description is beneficial, including height, weight, eye and hair color, tattoos and hair and facial hair style. If a vehicle is involved, any identifying information is also helpful, including number of doors, color and body style.

It can also help students to set complex passwords on phones and electronic devices, and consider installing security apps. By chance, Venkatesh had installed an app on his phone before the mugging that took a picture of a suspect after the stolen phone had an incorrect password entered five times. The app emailed the picture to Venkatesh, which he was able to go to the police with.