The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Crimes near campus come in waves

By Amy Ledig

A recent knifepoint robbery and a sexual assault in the area have set the Macalester community on edge. The two incidents, which occurred amidst a flurry of robberies and assaults at other local schools, have raised concern.The robbery occurred at 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 6 near 1725 Grand, just past Ramsey Junior High School. According to the Security Alert released that day, three Macalester students “were approached by a perpetrator who displayed a large knife and demanded money. One student handed over his wallet and the other two students were able to run away from the scene.”

The sexual assault occurred on Jan. 30, just days after the spring semester began. The victim was a non-Macalester affiliated woman. She was walking near Wheeler Street and Stanford Avenue when her attacker grabbed her from behind and pulled her into an alley.

“The sexual assault is very serious, but it did happen pretty far from campus,” Assistant Directory of Facilities Management and Head of Security Terry Gorman.

The school posted pink alert flyers around campus and sent the alert to students, faculty and staff via the college’s flash bulletin because the police asked security to publicize the incidents in the hopes that someone saw something and will come forward with information.

The robbery has been a source of consternation for campus security and the police.

“The police even shake their heads. It’s so random for [the perpetrator] to pick this out,” Gorman said. “It’s really hard, those guys were doing all the right things.”

He said that although the students were out late they were in a group, in a populated area and gave up their possessions, adding that students rarely carry large sums of money so it’s better to give up the wallet or purse than risk a struggle.

“Since I’ve seen the posters, I do kind of think about that more,” said Jennifer Scanlan ’10. “Stuff happens to everyone, but now it’s happening to privileged students so people are noticing, but you can’t always be afraid.”

Gorman said that although the spike in crime is worrisome, it isn’t exactly unexpected.

“As the students come back in the fall and the spring, activity explodes on campus, and the bad guys know this. They’re not rocket scientists but they know this,” he said.

Between Sept. 1 and Feb. 12, the most significant crimes recorded in the Open Log maintained by the Security Department have been 34 thefts and two attempted thefts, most of which have been on campus property. The log also shows that there was both a robbery and a burglary at Pad Thai, and the robbery incident on Feb. 6.

During a similar period last academic year, the Open Log reflects 16 thefts, two incidents of burglary and one robbery.

During the 2006 calendar year, the most recent year reflected in the Annual Security Report, there were three forcible sexual assaults on campus property, two robberies on public property and five burglaries on campus property.

The higher incidence of thefts this year can partially be attributed to a string of bike thefts in September and October.

“There are a few every year, but there were a lot of them together in a row,” said Gorman. He added that Security has been working with Mac Bike to increase access to bike locks to address the problem.

Although Gorman said he doesn’t see a significant increase in crime overall, there will be some changes. Security will be taking modest measures to address the incidents. Gorman said they have increased patrols and that there is now an additional officer on duty from eight p.m. to four a.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.

After the robbery, security is taking other steps as well.

“In this particular case, we asked the police to do more drive bys, and they agreed to do that,” Gorman said. “We try in the security alerts to give more tips.”

Gorman reiterated the usual tips for how to handle a robbery situation.

“We do encourage, when people get in that situation, to keep a cool head, to give them what they want, but to take in all the info they can… It’s a lot – you’re being assaulted with a weapon and now we’re asking you to remember all this stuff, but that’s how the police solve crimes,” he said.

He also emphasized that students need to report crimes and incidents as soon as they occur, not three or four hours later, once they’re “almost ancient history.”

“Safety and security is hard,” said Gorman. “You can’t keep it at a high alert level all the time. You can’t run at red all the time. We try to do things at a level where people can take it in and not be afraid [to live their lives].”

“I feel like [the alerts have] an impact the first day you read about it, but then you forget about it,” said Karlita Leon ’10. “You need to get to the library, you’re not going to be worried about getting raped.

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    Ava EllisonSep 6, 2019 at 6:14 am

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