Strong armed robbery raises safety awareness

A strong armed robbery that took place close to campus on Sept. 19 has raised safety awareness. Kelly Steiner/The Buzz.

A strong armed robbery that took place close to campus on Sept. 19 has raised safety awareness. Kelly Steiner/The Buzz.

Campus is a place where students should feel safe and secure, but sometimes an incident happens that makes us question our safety. Whether it’s from seeing the criminal incident reports in your inbox or hanging around campus, hearing about a robbery from someone you know, or witnessing a crime yourself, crime does happen at St. Ambrose.

A strong armed robbery earlier this month was one of the incidents that got people talking about safety on campus. In fact, making the information public is helping not only with awareness, but with the case as well.

“We’ve communicated some leads that came in from the email,” said Robert Christopher, director of security and assistant dean of students. “The email actually generated some people who believe they may have seen something. We’ve passed that information of our leads on to our liaison police officer. We’ve also made them aware and looked at some other incidents that have occurred in the last six months if there’s anything that might indicate a trend.”

Four men from campus were walking towards campus at around 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 19 on Harrison Street near Vander Veer Park when an SUV approached asking for directions. One student approached the car to show them directions he’d pulled up on his phone. The driver rolled up the window, trapping the student’s arm in the car, and drove towards campus, dragging the student along the street. He managed to break free, but the assailants got out of the car and struck and kicked him, stealing money from his wallet and the phone he was using to try to help them.

The Davenport Police Department is investigating the robbery since it happened off of campus. So far, no arrests have been made, and there’s no indication of this being a trend.

“Right now I could find another robbery over the summer, but it’s not the same,” Christopher said, explaining that there were five assailants in the summer robbery, but the incident have few similarities otherwise.

That doesn’t mean it won’t happen again, and Christopher warns students to think smart and be safe.

“You know, I get to be the grey-haired security director looking at the campus going ‘I need everybody to be careful,” he said. “Because it could happen again. This worked. And there’s no reason to believe that because it worked that people wouldn’t try to do the same thing over again.”

Some things people can do include locking doors, traveling in groups, don’t leave valuables in plain sight and don’t approach strangers.

This doesn’t mean the victim did anything wrong, Christopher was quick to explain.

“We have to recognize that something’s dangerous,” he said. “Sometimes that’s not easy to do, and I think this is one of those cases that certainly didn’t look dangerous until it became dangerous for the people involved.”

However, he said many burglaries and crimes could be prevented.

“You know, I can say probably 85 percent of the burglaries my team investigates this year, the doors will be unlocked or propped open,” Christopher said. “Now, those people can’t be blamed for that, because there still had to be an assailant to take advantage of the situation, but there is something we could have done that would have made it much more hard for them to do.”

Christopher and his team are working to provide as many resources as possible to keep campus safe, including lights, emergency phones and doors that lock.

“But, at the end of the day, people around them [security resources] have to use them and we have to recognize that something’s dangerous,” he said. “I think we have a lot of people here who care and want to help other people, so it become a very personal decision, and oftentimes, it’s those personal decisions that will make the most difference in how safe someone is.”

As for the student involved in the strong armed robbery, he is physically doing pretty well, according to Christopher.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact campus security or the Davenport Police Department.

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