Assistant News Editor
Three robberies since last Saturday brings the total number of robberies reported by the VCU police this October to 11.
The average monthly robberies since October 2011 is two per month, which puts October at over five times the monthly average.
Students did not receive alert text messages in relation to two robberies near campus, one early Saturday morning and one late Monday night. The third robbery, which occurred early Sunday morning on the 1200 block of West Clay Street, was alerted via text and email. Because all three of the crimes happened off campus, it was not mandatory to report them to students by alert as per Jeanne Clery Act.
“Generally speaking, police send out text messages when there is an ongoing threat to the community,” said Mike Porter, a public relations specialist with VCU. He also noted that none of the victims in the unalerted robberies were affiliated with VCU.
Since this August, there have been 17 robberies reported by VCU police between the two campuses – 16 on or near Monroe Park and one near MCV. In the Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, VCU reported a total of 25 robberies for the year of 2011.
On Saturday morning, shortly after midnight, a robbery occurred at 1114 W. Marshall St., immediately behind VCU’s Ackell Residence Center, according to VCU Police crime logs. Two men robbed two victims with a handgun. Richmond Police crime logs indicate the incident was cleared by arrest, one reason why students may not have been sent alert messages, which are often used when a continued threat is posed to the VCU community.
On Monday night, another robbery occurred near the intersection of West Broad and North Henry streets when another pair of robbers took a victim’s cell phone and wallet at gunpoint. The incident took place in Jackson Ward, just outside of VCU’s core campus.
In addition to these three robberies, a brandishing of a firearm was recorded by VCU Police at the intersection of Cathedral Place and North Laurel Street. According to a Richmond Police Report, a suspect in a 2012 BMW with a handgun was reported near the heart of the Monroe Park Campus and just a few dozen yards from many of VCU’s freshman dorms. This incident was also not alerted to students via text or email.
Some students expressed concern over the recent increase of crimes. VCU student Kirsten Harmon worries about the effect a high crime rate might have on prospective students.
“It might make (a prospective student) change their mind about coming here,” Harmon said. Before transferring from JMU, Harmon was advised by her friends not to transfer because of crime in the area.
“So much crime looks bad for VCU,” she said. Although Harmon accepts that higher crime might be expected around an urban university, she still worries that it might happen to her and takes extra precautions at night and off campus.
Some students say they aren’t as worried about safety on campus.
“I feel safe, but I think that has a lot to do with me being male,” said Greyson Gilbert, another student.
However, Gilbert said he does take certain precautions to prevent being victimized like avoiding walking alone and staying in late at night, and advises other students to do the same.
“More people should take more steps to prevent crime from happening to themselves,” he said. “Obviously the police can’t control it, so as students we’re going to start making measures ourselves.”