On-campus robbery creates concern

Photo Courtesy of Georgia Tech Communications

A recent armed robbery on campus last month has raised concerns about safety on campus. In response to the incident, Georgia Tech Police Department (GTPD) has increased its visibility on campus and urged students to take preventative measures to reduce their risk, especially at night.

On Aug. 27 at approximately 10 p.m., a white minivan pulled up to a student walking on Ferst Drive near Cherry Street. A suspect exited the vehicle brandishing a handgun and demanded the student’s property. Minutes later, a pair of students on Tenth Street near Hemphill reported that the same van approached them. Again, one of the suspects exited the vehicle with a weapon and demanded the victims’ property.

According to Robert Connolly, Chief of GTPD, officers responded within a minute and gave chase to the Van. Officers continued the chase into a community on the other side of Northside Drive until the chase was too dangerous, and they pulled back. During the chase, the on-board license plate reader was able to read the vehicle’s tags. Subsequent investigation showed that the vehicle was reported stolen early that day.

The van was recovered soon after the case and is being processed for fingerprints and other evidence. GTPD is still investigating the incident.

“I was very pleased that we were that close on top of it,” Connolly said. “Unfortunately the outcome: we didn’t catch them, but we were on top of them. Let’s hope they go somewhere else. We’ve always got to prepare for the worst, we can’t think our job’s done.

Connolly stressed that Tech was safe in the perspective of the larger Atlanta area, but expressed concern about the number of incidents that have occurred off-campus this semester.

“I’m concerned with the amount that’s around us, you know, we had a few at the Varsity, something at the Burger King… and we’re concerned with the numbers that are happening around us, and this one, it just came on campus and, you know, we’re very concerned with it,” Connolly said.

Connolly also stressed that students should exercise good judgement when traveling on and off campus, especially at night.

“We ask you to be mindful of your surroundings like in any other major city,” Connolly said. “Just be very mindful of your surroundings. And the biggest thing is to call us right away.”

GTPD has also seen its investment in its operation center pay off in this case. After dispatch was alerted of the crime, camera operators were able to spot the suspects’ van on one of the few dozen cameras placed around campus. Camera operators are able to view and manipulate the pan and zoom of the cameras.