May 27, 2015

UCPD Taking Steps to Prevent Robberies

University of Chicago Police officers are stepping up efforts to prevent robberies around the greater Hyde Park area in the warmer months, typically a time with an increase in criminal activity. 

Officers will focus on these hotspot areas by increasing foot and bike patrols especially in the blocks surrounding the Metra stations. The prevention efforts will remain in place for several weeks and be adjusted as necessary to ensure that officers are being deployed in the right areas.

Offenders typically approach individuals walking alone, on the sidewalk or exiting buildings, and either threaten or use physical force as they make off with victims’ cell phones, credit cards, cash, and other valuables. Individuals talking or texting on a cellular phone are targeted at a much higher rate than those who are not using a device, and paying attention to their surroundings.  

“Every day, thousands of people walk and bike throughout the area safely and without incident,” said University of Chicago Police Department Assistant Chief Gloria Graham. “But we know that with the warmer weather, criminal activity, especially robberies, increases. That’s why we are taking steps to prevent these kinds of incidents by increasing our visibility, and sharing more information with our community in hopes of minimizing the opportunity for these incidents to occur.”

The UCPD has observed a potential pattern of robberies in recent days and issued a security alert on May 27. Historical UCPD crime data analysis shows an increase in robberies during warm weather months between 4 p.m. and 3 a.m. Crime data analysis allows the department to pinpoint hotspots, days of the week, and hours of occurrence where robberies have occurred most often over the past three years, and to increase prevention efforts accordingly.

“The police cannot be everywhere, and safety truly is a shared responsibility,” said Graham. “The safest decision a community member can make is often not the most convenient, such as not waiting for a shuttle and electing to walk alone late at night. The UCPD is requesting that community members take personal responsibility for their safety.”

The department offers the following crime prevention tips to students and community members:

  • Be alert. Walk confidently with your head up, paying close attention to your surroundings and keeping your eyes and ears open. 
  • Report suspicious activity immediately.  If it doesn’t seem right, there is a good possibility it isn’t right. Criminals count on community members to second guess themselves and not report so that they may go undetected.
  • Use your cell phone only when necessary and avoid using headphones. Visible cell phones are a primary target for this crime.
  • Travel in well-lit and well-populated areas and with others when possible.
  • Only carry essential items with you and leave large amounts of cash and credit cards at home.

The UCPD also encourages students to take advantage of services available to them on an ongoing basis:

  • Students concerned for their safety while walking in the area can request a safety escort by calling 773.702.8181.
  • Use E-phones to contact police if you feel unsafe for any reason or to report suspicious activities.
  • UCPD Community Relations officers routinely provide safety tips and information to student groups, residential halls and other organizations. To request a safety presentation, simply contact UCPD’s Community Relations Unit at 773.702.6008 or ucpd-cru@uchicago.edu.