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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UPDATED: UA combats armed robberies on campus

A student walked down Fourth Street, between Vine and Cherry Avenues, on February 27 at 1:13 a.m., when a man in a white car pulled up and pointed a handgun at him. The suspect demanded that the student hand over any personal property.

The student did not argue with the Hispanic male, believed to be in his early 20s, and did as he said. The student was not injured in the only robbery to occur so far this year.

Last year, two armed robberies occurred on UA’s campus, according to University of Arizona Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Juan Alvarez.

In 2009, a total of six similar occurrences were reported to the UAPD. Five occurred in both 2008 and 2007, and nine during 2006. From Alvarez’ experience, there is no distinction to robbers between male and female victims when threatening someone to hand over their belongings.

Alvarez said that most robberies and aggravated assaults that occur at UA involve people walking alone either early in the morning or late at night. Students listening to iPods or texting as they walk often tune out their surroundings. He said that all of these distractions could cause a person’s senses to “”fail to see a blind spot.””

Graduate and Professional Student Council President Emily Connally said if the student who was robbed at gunpoint last week were armed, it would not have made the situation less threatening. She said she was once in a threatening circumstance where a group of men attacked her, and now would use some of the services offered on campus to get help.

“”Be a good witness, get a good description and as much information as you can see about the suspect and what was taken from you,”” Alvarez said. Although a victim may want to call a parent or friend immediately after a robbery or assault, he said he or she should call 911 first.  

According to Alvarez, victims rarely get hurt. “”Statistically speaking, robbers just want money or property,”” he said.

This year, 26 citywide home robberies have been reported to the Tucson Police Department. An additional 14 miscellaneous robberies have also been reported.

Most suspects committing this type of crime are typically repeat offenders.

In a press release, UAPD Chief Anthony Daykin said to never resist an armed robbery. There is a chance the suspect is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is not acting rationally. Alvarez said doing as the suspect asks and not making sudden movements can keep a student safe.

Krista Millay, program coordinator of student advocacy and assistance in the Dean of Students Office, said she often receives notifications from UAPD when a robbery occurs. She connects with the student to follow up on their well-being.

“”A lot more often a student is having difficulty in classes as a result of an unexpected event,”” Millay said. “”If a student feels like they’re suffering a pretty serious medical issue, we can walk them through different options, or how to take a medical withdrawal and maybe a semester off to go home and take care of themselves.””

Aside from investigating and making sure a robbery goes through the criminal justice system, UAPD helps students deal with the aftermath of being a victim.

“”Robberies are very stressful for students,”” Alvarez said. “”We want to make sure they get the support they need to get back to a normal way of life.””

To assist students, UA Alerts! sends students and faculty a message to their cell phone or other mobile device during an emergency situation. In addition, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona’s Safe Ride program gives university-affiliated people rides on and around the main campus during night hours. The Women’s Resource Center’s Safe Walk also provides free escorted walks to those walking alone at night.

“”I do feel safe here on campus,”” Connally said.

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