In response to a recent spate of robberies that affected University students and staff, the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) is increasing its patrols in the recently targeted areas near Metra stops on South Harper Avenue, according to a UCPD press release. The uptick in crime is most likely related to the warmer weather, which often correlates with higher crime rates, according to the announcement.
“Officers will focus on these hotspot areas by increasing foot and bike patrols, especially in the blocks surrounding the Metra stations. The prevention efforts will remain in place for several weeks and be adjusted as necessary to ensure that officers are being deployed in the right areas,” according to the press release.
Between May 21 and May 26, two students and one staff member were robbed on South Harper Avenue between East 57th and East 58th Streets. While none of the victims were injured, all had property, including the staff member’s car, stolen by the perpetrators. The crimes all took place at night between the hours of 9:20 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. In all three cases, the perpetrators implied possession of a weapon, but the victims did not see the weapon.
All of the incidents involved two suspects, but no description of these suspects is available. Although it is unknown whether or not the same two people committed all three of the crimes, a security alert released May 27 by Associate Vice President for Safety and Security and Chief of Police Marlon Lynch noted that the “location, time of day, and number of suspects [involved in the incidents] suggest a possible pattern.” The security alert noted that the CPD was also bolstering its patrols and increasing “crime reduction activities” in the affected areas.
In the press release, security alert, and in an interview with NBC 5 News, the UCPD stressed that convenience should always come second to safety, noting that some practices that may seem inconvenient may help prevent or at least reduce the severity of the crime. University affiliates should opt to wait for a shuttle instead of walking alone at night, should avoid using cell phones, and should leave large amounts of cash and credit cards at home if possible. In addition, the security alert asserted that when walking at night, there is safety in numbers.