Warm weather invites spike in armed robberies

Over the last two weeks, the number of armed and strong-armed robberies on and around campus have jumped sharply. The Tech Police Department sent out five different crime alerts, beginning on March 14, regarding these types of robberies.

Crime alerts are sent out by the police department to the campus community if an incident of violent robbery occurs in close proximity of the campus or if the robbery involves an individual from Tech.

In the four incidents of armed robbery, the perpetrators were described wielding a silver-colored pistol. In the one incident of strong-armed robbery, the perpetrator was unarmed but forced the victim to the ground.

“One thing [about] the cases we have taken in the last several weeks, the thing that they all share was… one person, walking alone late at night,” said Ian Mayberry, crime prevention officer.

The majority of the robberies are being handled by the Atlanta Police Department, while the campus police are investigating the robbery that took place near the North Avenue Apartments.

According to the police report, the victim had parked his vehicle on the street in front of the North Avenue Apartments North Parking Deck and was walking south along Centennial Olympic Place when he was approached by two black males.

One perpetrator was described to have appeared to be 16 to 19 years old, wearing a red and white stripped hoodie and had a height of just under six feet. The other perpetrator was described wearing a bright multicolored track jacket, wore braces on his teeth, appeared to be between the 15 and 16 years old and stood at around five and a half feet tall.

After pointing a gun at the victim and demanding all of his possessions, the perpetrators left with over $13,000 in goods, including the victim’s vehicle. The vehicle was later recovered by the Atlanta Police Department.

Since all of the robberies are still actively being investigated, both the Atlanta Police Department and the Tech Police Department declined to provide additional details about the robberies.

According to Mayberry, these types of violent robberies come and go in cycles. He continued by saying that the recent warming temperatures encourage people to stay out later, increasing the chance of an incident. He stated that the amount of thefts has been increasing across the board due to the recent downturn in the economy.

“The weather is a major contributing factor…. Around this time last year, we did see [the number of] our armed robberies go up,” Mayberry said. Along with the Atlanta Police Department, Mayberry added that armed robbery suspects were arrested during that period last year.

To discourage these types of crimes around campus, the Tech Police Department operates a “strike team” that is separate from the normal police patrols. Around eight to 12 police officers conduct normal patrols during the nights, and four to five officers make up the “strike team.”

The watch commander for this group creates his own patrol route, and sometimes these routes are monitored by plainclothes officers.

“I’d like to encourage everyone in the [Tech] community to avoid walking by themselves during the night. If they need a ride or if they need to go from one place to another, then call the Stingerette service…. If you are walking to your car and you do not feel safe, you can call the police for a visual escort,” Mayberry said.

The Atlanta Police Department calls the area surrounding Tech campus Zone Five. From the beginning of the year to March 25, Zone Five has experienced a combined 68 violent and non-violent robberies.

When the Atlanta Police Department responds to an incident of armed robbery near campus, they provide the Tech Police Department with details of the perpetrator, the weapon and the location of the incident.

If the robbery also involves a student, the Atlanta Police Department will have one of their officers talk directly with a Tech police officer.