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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Police and Public Safety increase patrols in response to robberies

Lamont Mapp, a lieutenant in the 19th district of the Philadelphia Police Department, updates University Student Senate about police responses to robberies off-campus. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

The Office of Public Safety & Security has increased security measures in response to multiple robberies near campus during the month of January, according to Arthur Grover, director of Public Safety & Security.

The Office of Public Safety issued university-wide crime alerts beginning with the first robbery on Jan 10.

“We have had three robberies in three-and-a-half weeks in a four-block radius,” Grover said, addressing a meeting of the University Student Senate on Jan. 28. “What we are seeing around here right now is an aberration. We are not used to that, and we are not going to get used to that.”

Grover said his office was coordinating with local law enforcement to increase police patrols in the area. Grover recommended students use the campus shuttle and escort services, avoid walking alone and stay in well-lit and populated areas.

“We had no muggings in 2018,” Grover said. “But, here in 2019, we are seeing a trend. It is disturbing.”

The crimes all happened between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m., and the perpetrators operated as a group of three individuals, Grover said.

On Jan. 10, at about 7:20 p.m., a female student was approached by three men as she walked toward the corner of 51st Street and Wynnefield Avenue. Two of the men had handguns but ran away when a car pulled up at a nearby stop sign. The student was not hurt.

On Jan. 23, at about 9 p.m., a male student who pulled up in his car near his house on the 5300 block of Wynnefield Avenue was approached by three males, one of whom had a handgun. The men entered the student’s car, then drove away with the student in the vehicle. After forcing the student to hand over his wallet and cell phone, the men released him. The student was not injured and his vehicle was later recovered several blocks away.

Lamont Mapp, administrative lieutenant for the Philadelphia Police Department’s 19th District, said his division was aware of the problems near campus.

“We deploy our bike officers to our hot spots,” Mapp said. “Right now St. Joe’s is a hot spot. This area is a hot spot.”

The commanding officer of Philadelphia’s Southwest Detective Division, Frank R. Milillo, who is coordinating his investigation with St. Joe’s Public Safety investigator, said there has been a city-wide increase in the theft of cell phones.

“We got some suspects that we are working on and hopefully in the next couple of days, we’ll bring this person to
justice,” Milillo said.

Grover said at the Senate meeting he wanted to dispel a rumor on social media that the crimes are somehow gang-related.

“There is no indication that people are being initiated into a gang by doing these robberies,” Grover said. “There’s plenty of information that they are stealing them for a profit motive, and there’s a fence out there that is buying these phones.”

Sarah Strickland ’21, who lives in Pennbrook Apartments, told The Hawk she no longer walks to campus.

“I take the shuttle because I do not feel comfortable walking to campus anymore,” Strickland said. “I would hope that Public Safety would sit in front of Pennbrook like they do in front of Lannon.”

When calling for an escort from Public Safety, Strickland said it takes a while for the escort to arrive.

“We have been authorized to put, on an overtime basis, additional escort vehicles out there, so waits should be diminished,” Grover told Student Senators at their meeting.

Anthony Minunni ’20, who lives in Merion Gardens Apartments, told The Hawk that while the incidents are unfortunate, he is personally comfortable walking on City Avenue.

“There is such a small distance between where my past dorms have been, past and current, and campus, that I just never felt unsafe,” Minunni said.

Minunni added if the university makes sure Public Safety escorts are available and adds more if necessary, students will feel safer.

Student Senate Treasurer Michael Efstration ’19, told The Hawk after the Senate meeting that it is important for Public Safety to use as many resources as they can.

“I think obviously employ more staff during the night time, during the times the muggings are happening,” Efstration said. “I guess it is hard to tell if they can do more, but I think there is more to be done in any capacity.”


Cara Smith ’21 and Sam Britt ’20 contributed to this story.

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