An increasing number of Public Safety crime alerts have been issued this semester, and many students are beginning to worry that safety on campus is on the decline. This Wednesday, two alerts were issued: one regarding an attempted abduction, the other a strong-arm robbery.
“It feels as though whenever I check my email, there’s another crime alert,” Talia Rodriguez, senior, said.
Some students say they can’t remember a time when safety was an issue on campus.
“My freshman year I lived in the dorms and I always felt safe,” Tiffany Hampton, junior, said. “I even used to run around campus at night.”
“I can’t remember any crime alerts that were sent out back then,” Hampton said.
Public Safety officials say that there has only been a minor increase in crimes on campus compared to previous years.
In the first incident, which occurred on Oct. 7 at approximately 8 p.m., a female victim was approached while leaving the UM dance studio on San Amaro Drive by a male subject who attempted to force her into his vehicle. The victim was able to break free of the subject’s grasp and flee to the Metro Rail Station, where she left the area by rail.
The suspect in this case is described as a white male, unknown age, 5’9″, 200 lbs., short black hair, medium build, dark complexion, wearing a red T-shirt and blue jeans. The subject was driving an older model, four-door, dark red Honda.
In the second incident, which occurred on Oct. 12 at approximately 5:45 p.m., a female victim walking to her vehicle by the IM Fields with two friends was pushed to the ground as her purse was taken by an unknown subject.
The subject, who fled the scene on foot, is described as a black male, 18-25 years of age, 5’8″ to 6′, 170 lbs., wearing black short pants, no shirt, and a blue bandanna on his head.
Both alerts were issued on Wednesday, although both had occurred days before. Many students say they do not understand why there was a delay.
“I want to know immediately so I can protect myself,” Jamie Stern, freshman, said. “I want to be extra careful in areas where a crime just occurred.”
Christensen said that sometimes Public Safety has no choice but to delay the release of specifics on a case.
“Detectives working on a case will often request that information be withheld until they are finished with their initial investigation,” Christensen said.
Some other incidents that occurred this semester include a suspicious incident in Parking Lot 441, between building 41 and 37, in which a male suspect exposed himself to a group of female victims, and a simple battery at Stanford Circle in which a male suspect hugged a male victim.
Rodriguez said that she wants to be kept updated on the status of ongoing investigations of crime on campus.
“We should definitely get an update of what’s going on,” Rodriguez said.
According to Henry Christensen, director of Public Safety, the emailed alerts have aided in providing leads in several crimes since their inception. Previously, crime alerts were posted throughout campus.
“The purpose of these crime alerts is to keep the UM community informed and to aid in the investigations of crimes,” Christensen said. “That’s why we don’t hesitate to put them out – we want to reach as many students as possible.”
Public Safety has set up an email account to handle questions regarding crimes on campus: firstname.lastname@example.org. Students are encouraged to utilize this resource.
Anyone with information regarding the attempted abduction by the dance studio or the strong-arm robbery by the School of Music parking lot should call the Coral Gables Police Dept. at 305-442-1600, or Crimestoppers at 305-471-TIPS.
Public Safety officials encourage students to be aware of their surroundings at all times and to request a UM campus security escort by calling X8-6666 from a campus phone, by using an emergency blue light telephone located throughout campus or by calling 305-284-6666 from any cell phone or off-campus phone.
The Miami Hurricane will continue to follow up on these cases as more information becomes available.
Jorge Arauz can be contacted at UM_newspaper@yahoo.com