Students robbed at gunpoint


While on-campus crime has decreased this year in most areas, a spate of incidents occurred last week that have raised concern about the safety of members of the campus community. The Georgia Tech Police Department issued two Clery Act reports regarding the discovery of a deceased person on campus and the armed robbery of two Tech students in nearby Home Park.

Two brothers, both Tech students, were forced to strip down and were tied and bound before being robbed in their Ethel Street house in Home Park on Monday, Nov. 15. The incident took place around 10 p.m.
Three suspects armed with a single black snub-nosed revolver approached one of the students as he walked toward his house and pushed the students into one of the house’s rear bedrooms. One of the students reported seeing the suspects approach from near the intersection of Terrell Street and Ethel Street near the McDonald’s on Hemphill Avenue.

The suspects demanded that the students remove all of their clothing and then bound the two students, face down, tying their legs and arms with a pair of ties and belts.

The suspects stole various electronics from the house before escaping in a dark blue Hyundai Sonata Turbo recently purchased by one of the brothers.

The victims stated that before the suspects left, they had stated “they had been watching them for two weeks” and “when we leave, don’t come out because we have someone outside watching the house.”

The brothers were able to wriggle themselves free from the bonds after the suspects left and reported hearing another vehicle that sounded like an “old V-8” shortly after the three males left their home. The brothers then fled to their landlord’s house nearby.

The Atlanta Police Department is heading the investigation. The victims described the suspects as three “clean cut” black males, approximately 5-foot-8-inch to 5-foot-11-inch in height.

“The safety and security of our students, faculty and staff remains our top priority. We are supporting Atlanta Police with their investigation of the incident and urge everyone to be extra diligent when traveling off campus and into the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Institute spokesman Matt Nagel.

In a separate incident, the body of a deceased white male was discovered on Tech’s campus on Tues. morning at 711 Marietta St. The body was discovered by a Tech employee around 9:50 a.m. under a blanket near some shrubbery.

“Preliminary reports indicate that identification found on the body was that of Jeffrey Lane Hopkins, age 44. There is no indication that Hopkins is or was a member of the Georgia Tech community,” Nagel said.

An autopsy was performed on Wednesday to determine Hopkin’s cause of death. Initial reports suggest no indications of foul play.

Despite the two incidents that occurred on Mon. and Tues., as of October 2010, crime at Tech has decreased by approximately 20 percent since the beginning of the calendar year. This level of crime decrease is what has been measured within the parameters of “Zone-5,” which is the zone of the City of Atlanta that encompasses the Institute. Crime decreases in areas immediately surrounding Tech are less substantial. Home Park has seen a 13 percent decline while the area along West Peachtree Street has seen only a 10 percent decline. Tech has seen the most reduction (10 percent or better) in the areas of rape, robbery, motor vehicle theft and larceny-thefts. The most significant crime decrease was seen in motor vehicle theft. There have also been large decreases in the categories of rape and robbery, which have declined approximately 50 percent in the calendar year.

However, crime rates have increased in the areas of bicycle and “from building” theft. The former refers to theft that occurs from on-campus buildings. According to Tech police officials, most of these bike thefts can be easily prevented and stem from a lack of student vigilance and caution.

“The best way to prevent bike theft is to first use a U-lock, and secondly register your bike with the Police Department. Most of the bikes that are stolen are stolen in broad daylight and are bikes with cable locks instead of U-locks,” said Robert Connolly, the Tech deputy chief of police.

Many of the “from building” thefts that occur also happen in broad daylight, when suspicious individuals roam around empty office spaces and steal laptops, car keys and other office supplies. According to Tech police, locking office doors and taking valuables when leaving the office can also prevent many of these thefts.

GTPD uses a number of different methods to decrease crime on campus starting with increased awareness on campus. By increasing awareness of campus crimes, GTPD hopes to prevent more simple crimes such as bike theft and theft from buildings.

Tech also attempts to decrease campus crime by increasing visibility of police officers on campus. One of the ways that this is accomplished is to set up safety checks in high crime areas at certain times of the day. The goal of this is to increase visibility of patrols on campus and to actively prevent crimes by checking licenses and vehicle identification.

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