The string of strong-armed robberies and burglaries in Collegetown late last month has left some students concerned, but Ithaca Police Department Lt. Tim Williams said the cases are currently under investigation.
“We do have some leads, and we’ll see what develops,” Williams said. “But we’re really not at a point where we’re ready to make any arrests.”
Williams said the IPD has not ruled out the possibility that some or all of the crimes were related. The Cornell University Police Department sent out four emails, from Aug. 19 to Aug. 30, alerting students to the crimes. CUPD Director Curtis S. Ostrander said that although the crimes happened off campus and are therefore out of CUPD’s jurisdiction, the CUPD felt it should warn Cornell students.
“We figure it’s our obligation. It’s close to our students,” Ostrander said.
Although crime alert emails are not uncommon, Ostrander and Williams both acknowledged that there were more this year than usual.
“Typically we don’t see as many [crimes in Collegetown] in such a short period of time,” Williams said.
But Ostrander noted that even if there were more email alerts this year, the absolute number is still low.
“I did look back on our crime alerts over the last couple years, and although there’s an increase, there’s usually a couple a year,” he said. “In other words, it’s more, but it’s still only four” alerts.
According to the emails, the incidents included: a strong-armed robbery on Aug. 18, at 11:45 p.m.; a robbery/assault on Aug. 23, at 1:30 a.m.; a strong-armed robbery on Aug. 29, at 1:30 a.m.; and several house robberies “in the past week” proceeding Aug. 25.
Ostrander said he does not believe the crimes are part of any sort of epidemic. Neither Ostrander nor Williams knew of any crimes reported after the last, on Aug. 29.
Both suggested students take “common sense” precautions, such as walking in groups, especially after dark.
One email stated that in most of the burglaries, entry to target houses was gained through unlocked windows and doors.
“Common sense should prevail. I think you should always be cognizant of your surroundings, be aware of the people around you,” Williams said.
Ostrander added that on campus, CUPD’s blue light service provides escorts late at night. Information concerning the incidents or other suspicious activity in Collegetown should be reported to the Ithaca Police Department at (607) 272-9973.
Suspicious activity on campus should be reported to the Cornell University Police Department at (607) 255-1111, or 5-1111 from a campus phone. Dialing 911 in emergencies works both on and off campus. The blue light service may be reached at (607) 255-7373, or 5-7373 from a campus phone.
Archived article by Yuval Shavit
Sun City Editor