CHAMPAIGN — Champaign and University of Illinois police have increased patrols in and around the campus area following a series of recent robberies.
Champaign and UI police say detectives are trying to determine whether six robberies reported since Friday may be related.
Police reported that three of the six robberies involved handguns.
They took place between 9:30 p.m. and 3 a.m. in the following areas:
— Green and Neil streets.
— Second and Daniel streets.
— 300 block of East Springfield Avenue.
— 400 block of South Second Street.
— 500 block of East Stoughton Street.
— 700 block of West Church Street.
UI police Sgt. Tom Geis said that, while the incident on Church Street was not near the UI campus, the crime was so similar to the other robberies that police are including it in the list.
The most recent incident took place at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 500 block of East Stoughton Street. According to police, a 25-year-old man reported locking his bicycle in a rack when two other men approached him.
One of the men placed the barrel of a gun to the victim's forehead and demanded his property. The victim initially refused, but later gave cash to the robber. The robber hit the victim in the head with the gun, knocking him to the ground.
A UI police officer later found the victim unconscious and bleeding. The man was taken to a local hospital for treatment of injuries.
While he was at the hospital, the victim told police he was also missing a laptop computer, credit cards and other personal items.
The description of the robbers was incomplete.
If you have any information about these crimes, call University of Illinois police at 333-1216, Champaign police at 351-4545 or Champaign County Crimestoppers at 373-8477. Information may also be left anonymously online at http://www.373tips.com or by cellphone text message by sending CCTIP plus the information to CRIMES (274637).
Crimestoppers will pay a reward if the information leads to an arrest. Cash rewards are also paid for information on other felony crimes or fugitives.
Police are asking the public to remain alert, especially when they are walking alone, and to refrain from being distracted by cellphones or other electronic devices.
Police said two of the victims reported talking on a cellphone or using headphones when they were approached by robbers.
People are urged to travel in well-lit areas, when possible.