Male students common targets of campus robberies
A recent string of robberies in the area around the University of Illinois campus follows patterns of past years, according to police.
"This is a crime of opportunity," said Assistant UI Police Chief Jeff Christensen. "Walking in well-lit areas, taking well-populated routes, being alert and using mass transit or Safe Rides take away that opportunity."
As in past years, the robberies around campus occurred primarily in Champaign, primarily involving male students and primarily in the late night/early morning hours.
UI interim Police Chief Krystal Fitzpatrick recently warned students, staff and faculty to pay attention to their surroundings and to avoid anything that would prevent them from hearing or seeing people approach or from responding appropriately to dangers.
She urged people not to walk alone and, if they have a cell phone, to keep it handy and call 911 if they see anything suspicious. Fitzpatrick stressed the importance of calling suspicious activity right away to prevent trouble or catch anyone causing trouble.
Christensen said, "The campus is not a safe haven from criminal activity."
Between Aug. 26 and Oct. 8, there were 13 robberies or attempted robberies reported on and around campus. All but one occurred between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. and the other happened at 9:20 p.m.
Also consistent with past years, 11 involved male UI students, with one female student and one Champaign man also victims; many occurred in Champaign, but the last four have happened in Urbana, according to Christensen.
Only one, a robbery of a male student by three men armed with a broken bottle, occurred on UI property.
The student was confronted as he walked to his car near Mathews and Oregon about 10:45 p.m. Oct. 6.
Three men were arrested in that incident: Travis C. Hawkins, 20, and Andre Haywood, also 20, both of Savoy, and Chimaroke Enyearzu, 20, of South Holland, according to Christensen. Court records show they were all charged and pleaded innocent to robbery.
Christen said there were three other armed robberies: one on Aug. 26 at Second Street and Springfield Avenue in Champaign, one on Sept. 22 near Coler Avenue and Illinois Street in Urbana and one Oct. 7 near Springfield and Lincoln avenues in Urbana.
Other incidents involved confrontations or assaults. Two others were purse snatchings.
Since September 1995, the UI has collected reports from Champaign and Urbana police, as well as its own department, on crimes and attempts involving murder, assault and battery, robbery, rape and other sex crimes.
Those crimes counted have occurred in the area bounded by University Avenue, Windsor Road, Race Street and the railroad tracks east of Neil Street.
The latest report issued earlier this month shows one attempted murder during the last academic year when a man was stabbed outside a Champaign restaurant on Jan. 22. The most recent actual homicide in the campus area involved a fatal shooting at a fraternity party in Champaign in October 1988.
For the past academic year, there were 55 robberies and attempts – up from 53 the previous academic year and from 49 the year before. Last academic year's total is up 38 percent from the academic year September 2000 through August 2001, when there were 34 robberies and attempts reported in that campus district
The latest report shows the number of aggravated assaults and batteries the past academic year dropped to 93 from 142 the previous academic year. That's a 35 percent decline.
According to the report, there were 128 victims in those assault and battery incidents; of those, 106 were males 29 years old or younger. Usage of alcohol or drugs by the victim or suspect was a factor in 69 percent of the crimes.
Robbery reports in campus area this school year
– 9:20 p.m. Aug. 26 – Two male UI students were walking and approached by a car at Second Street and Springfield Avenue in Champaign
A passenger in the car asked for a cigarette and got out of the car. When one of the students offered a cigarette, the man grabbed him in a head hold. A black semiautomatic handgun was pointed at the student and the man demanded and took his money, cell phone and driver's license.
– 3:50 a.m. Aug. 27 – A 53-year-old Champaign man was walking down an alley behind the 600 block of East Clark Street in Champaign when contacted by two men, with one asking for a cigarette. When the man refused, he was hit in the head and knocked out. When he woke up 10 minutes later, his money was missing from his front pocket.
– 1:08 a.m. Sept. 2 – A male UI student riding his bike was approached by three men who demanded his money near Second Street and Armory Avenue in Champaign. When the student asked if they were serious, one stranger said they were just kidding and asked for a cigarette. The student felt threatened and rode away.
– 3:05 a.m. Sept. 2 – A male UI student was crossing in the 500 block of East Green Street in Champaign when he was approached by four strangers; one said he would be beaten if he moved. The student took out his cash and gave it to one of the strangers, who left with the other three.
– 2:18 a.m. Sept. 3 – One male UI student and two Eastern Illinois University students were involved in a fight with two strangers, resulting in a cell phone being stolen in the 900 block of South Third Street, Champaign.
– 12:39 a.m. Sept. 10 – Two male UI students were at a party in the 500 block of East University Avenue in Champaign; five other men were refused entry; two students followed the strangers to apologize, but as they reached the 200 block of North Fourth Street, the students were attacked, beaten and robbed of their wallets.
– 11:55 p.m. Sept. 22 – A male UI student was walking near Coler Avenue and Illinois Street in Urbana when a stranger approached, pulled out a pistol and ordered the student to give up his wallet, which he did.
– 12:44 a.m. Oct. 4 – A female UI student walked up to a group of strangers near Third and Healey streets in Champaign; one of the men grabbed the woman's purse from her arm and ran away.
– 1 a.m. Oct. 4 – A male UI student was listening to his portable digital music player as he walked in the area of Fifth and Healey streets; an unknown man grabbed him around the neck and head from behind while someone else punched him, knocking his glasses off; when one of the men demanded his money, the student said it was in his back pocket; the men took the money and left.
– 10:47 p.m. Oct. 6 – A male UI student walked out of Roger Adams Lab to his car near Mathews and Oregon in Urbana when two strangers approached and yelled for him to give them his credit cards; when the student did not respond and continued walking, two men walked up behind him while a third held a broken bottle; one man hit the student's arm and another kicked his car door.
– 10:20 p.m. Oct. 7 – A male UI student walking near Springfield and Lincoln avenues in Urbana was approached by a man who pointed a gun at the student's chin and demanded his wallet; the robber took the wallet and left.
– 2:03 a.m. Oct. 8 – A male UI student was talking on a cell phone as he walked in the 1000 block of West Nevada Street in Urbana when a stranger grabbed him from behind and took his cell phone; the stranger told the student he would return the cell phone in exchange for the student's money; the robber then took the money and the cell phone, threatening to beat the student.
– 10:54 p.m. Oct. 8 – A female UI student was approached as she entered her apartment in the 300 block of East Daniel Street, Champaign; a man pushed her and grabbed her bag off of her shoulder.