Sunday, April 14, 2013

CRIME ALERT: Armed robbery at 56th/57th and University

Security alert issued at 9:30 AM by the UCPD. By my count, this is the first security alert of the new year.
"At approximately 5:25 a.m., Sunday, April 14 – Two University students walking south on University Avenue between 56th Street and 57th Street were  approached by two unknown males, one of whom was armed with a handgun. The suspects took the victims’ wallets and an iPhone before entering a waiting mid-size black vehicle that sped northbound on University Avenue. The victims were not injured."
These descriptions are always annoying to me. They are about as vague as you can possibly get without being outright negligent. There are no details of the clothing, height, build, complexion, hair, etc. Of course, the two students may not recall those details for reasons of stress, intoxication, or some combination of both. But if it's the UCPD deliberately omitting details to prevent panic or false accusations, then that's a much more frustrating state of affairs. 

The crime is particularly noteworthy for this blog because it happened at basically the least "likely" time and place for Hyde Park crime to occur. Does this mean that my last post on April Hyde Park crime was wrong? In answer to that, I will simply quote myself from that previous article:
"The reality of interpersonal crime and violence is a lot messier than the data will suggest. Looking back to the crime versus time plot above, we can see that only 1 Hyde Park resident experienced any sort of violence at 7:00 AM in the last 6 years. But if you yourself were that 1 victim, the percentages and probabilities wouldn't mean a thing."
As a final note, robbers are predators of habit. If their first incident was successful, they are likely to try again. That said, police work is best at reactive enforcement. UCPD cars are likely to increase patrol in the area just to prevent this from happening. But as we all know, the police can't be everywhere at once, and they can't even stay in the same place for too long. This puts the preventative burden on pedestrians and community members to do three things:
  1. Report suspicious activity. If you see a black car plus two suspicious looking men, do not hesitate to call the police. Be on the lookout for suspicious cues that are not just racial. Look for men that are (not an exhaustive list)...
    • Constantly looking over their shoulders
    • Wearing jackets that are too thick for the weather
    • Have no other bags or belongings to suggest they are in transit between point A and point B
    • Are in the vicinity of a mid-size black card (not a van)
  2. Exercise personal awareness. If you feel uncomfortable about others on the street, don't be afraid to turn around or cross to the other sidewalk. Don't worry about offending people. Personal safety is always the priority. That doesn't mean you should indiscriminately profile; crossing the street whenever you see 2+ black men is neither an effective self-defense policy nor the way of the warrior. But if you have other reasons to feel unsafe, then do not hesitate to run.
  3. IF YOU GET ROBBED, try and remember as many details as possible. License plate, tattoos, clothes, jewelry, etc. All of these details are critical in helping the police catch the criminals and preventing them from striking again. This sort of under-stress recollection is admittedly difficult, but even a single remembered detailed ("he had a silver ring with a gold stud on his gun hand") can be invaluable.
Stay safe out there!

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