Robberies on campus spike over the summer

Students received multiple Department of Public Safety e-mail reports this summer, as the number of campus robberies between the last day of classes and move-in spiked from three to six since last year.

The incidents spanned across campus, and the weapons used varied.

One suspect held his victim at knife-point. One attempted to strong-arm the victim and struck him in the face with his fist. One displayed a handgun. Another four, two of whom were later caught and taken into custody, displayed a taser.

In another case, suspects displayed a sawed-off .22 rifle. DPS, assisted by the Milwaukee County Police Department, located the suspects within six minutes of receiving the report and were also able to recover the weapon, which was found unloaded.

Not all were student victims. An alumnus and a student’s guest were also robbed.

Captain Russell Shaw, associate director of DPS, said economic and weather conditions can affect crime rates.

“People are walking more and walking alone,” Shaw said. “It almost becomes a crime of opportunity.”

He encourages those who do decide to walk to stay in well-lit areas, stay out of alleys and avoid walking alone late at night.

“If you’re uncomfortable, use your senses and go to a Blue Light phone,” he said, noting that many times students do not utilize the safety tools provided on campus.

“The temptation is always there to walk,” Shaw said, but he urges students to instead contact DPS when they feel uncomfortable. The Marquette LIMO vans run from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. on week nights, and until 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and if students need transportation at another time, DPS will send a squad car to pick them up.

Asia Jackson, a Milwaukee native and sophomore in the College of Communication, lives about five minutes from campus. She visited campus several times this summer and, like all returning students, received numerous DPS alerts this summer.

Jackson said the e-mails were overwhelming, but she was reassured that DPS took proper precautions and made students aware of the incidents.

“I feel safer than I did last year as a freshman because I felt that DPS and the Milwaukee County Police Department had a strong presence on campus this summer,” Jackson said.

DPS chief Larry Rickard also spoke to the class of 2015 during freshmen orientation, covering general issues of student safety.

Brittany Nino, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she heard about some robberies from those she knew staying on campus, but the DPS presentation eased her concerns.

“They had a very strong presentation and explained their role on campus,” Nino said. “I feel very safe as a new student after hearing how important safety is to them.”