Reports of robberies decrease in West Campus, Riverside

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Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Robberies have decreased in West Campus and Riverside this fall semester compared to last fall, according to the Austin Police Department Crime Viewer.

Since Aug. 29, there have been zero reported robberies in the 78705 zip code, which encompasses UT and West Campus. During the same time period last year, there were four reported robberies, including three robberies by assault and one robbery by threat.

Robberies have also decreased in the 78741 zip code, which includes the Riverside area. There were 21 robberies in that area from Aug. 29 to Dec. 4 in 2017 as opposed to nine this year during that time period.  

University of Texas Police Chief David Carter said robbery is decreasing in traditionally victimized student housing areas because of a citywide focus on reducing crime.

“Riverside was an area that was very prone to have robberies because there was a lot of cases involving people that were that were afraid to report to the police and engage the police,” Carter said. “But the relationship between these communities and the police is slowly beginning to improve.”

APD Sgt. Sheldon Askew said the frequency of robberies fluctuates, depending on a variety of factors, but did not elaborate on specific reasons why they had decreased in both Riverside and West Campus.

While there were no reported robberies in the West Campus zip code, two UT students were robbed with a knife on Nov. 9 just outside the zip code boundaries. The suspects were arrested by APD after a second robbery in the area was reported 10 minutes later, according to an alert from UTPD.

Carter said UTPD takes robbery very seriously, whether it occurs on campus or not. Carter said UTPD offers a district representative program to provide support to any students who have concerns or who are victims of crimes. 

“Robberies require fast and quick attention to responding to make sure that the person that’s robbed is safe,” Carter said. “We will always be there for our student community.”

Askew said people should stay aware of their surroundings when they are outside because robberies can happen at any time.

“The most important thing to prevent robberies is to exercise situational awareness and common sense,” Askew said. “If you are going to meet someone to exchange money (or) goods, meet in a well-lit public place. Even better, take someone with you.”

Sociology sophomore Peeyal Kumar said she is concerned about robberies and always carries pepper spray and walks in well-lit areas. Kumar said while she is grateful robberies are decreasing, she still wishes Riverside robberies were lower.

“It’s great that numbers have gone down, but it’s messed up that students who live in Riverside are at a bigger risk for getting robbed,” Kumar said. “Just because Riverside is not as insanely expensive as West Campus doesn’t mean they should be more vulnerable to crime.”