December 1, 2010

Investigations Continue Into Fall Creek Robberies

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Cornell Police, in conjunction with the Ithaca Police, are continuing the investigation into the two strong-armed robberies that occurred near Fall Creek Gorge — one that occurred near the suspension bridge Oct. 28, the other along the 900 block of Stewart Avenue Nov. 25.

CUPD has been canvassing the Oct. 28 crime scene since the first incident, gathering information about the robbery from people who frequently pass through the area. CUPD Chief Kathy Zoner said that the recent Nov. 25 robbery “re-heightened our awareness.”

Zoner said these are “developing” investigations. The information that CUPD has gathered has produced leads, she said, and CUPD will continue to pursue those leads until no additional information can be found or an arrest is made.

“[An arrest] is certainly what we hope for,” Zoner said. “We are continuing to build information, and as long as we continue to find new information, we will continue to work aggressively at it.”

Zoner noted the similarities between the October robbery and the Thanksgiving break robbery by Fall Creek, since the modus operandi and the description of the suspects for the two cases closely resembled each other.

The female victim in the October robbery was jogging along the Fall Creek Gorge trail when a man grabbed her and took her iPod, CUPD reported. In Thursday’s robbery, a man approached from behind, grabbed the female victim, and ran away with her purse.

The victim in the Oct. 28 robbery described the perpetrator as “6 feet 1 inch tall, thin build, appearing to be in his early 20s, clean-shaven, with short, light brown hair,” according to the CUPD. The victim’s description for Thursday’s robbery suspect was a “white male in his early twenties, approximately 5’10” tall, wearing glasses and a hooded sweatshirt,” according to IPD.

While the descriptions of the suspects in the two robberies differ in height by three inches and the physical characteristics do not match perfectly, Zoner said it is still possible for the same person to have committed each crime.

“There’s nothing conclusive,” she said. “Nobody’s out there with a tape measure or ruler. [A victim’s] emotional involvement may color how descriptions will come out.”

Samantha Lovering ’13 walks over the Fall Creek suspension bridge every day on her way to and from classes. She was at home with her family over Thanksgiving when she got the CUPD’s crime alert e-mail on her phone. She said she now carries pepper spray that her father purchased for her over Thanksgiving.

“I don’t think [being robbed is] something that only I am worried about,” she said. “I think its something that everyone should worry about.”

Lovering added that the police presence in the area is reassuring. “It’s good to know that they are here,” she said.

Mike Gray, a senior investigator for the Ithaca Police Department who is aiding in the investigation, advised students to travel in groups and to secure their valuables as they walk around the area at night.

“Every once and a while we get one or two people who think [robbery] is a good way to fatten their wallets before the holiday season,” he said.

Additionally, Gray advised the public to be good witnesses if they are robbed and to pay close attention to the physical characteristics of the perpetrator.

Police Chief Zoner said that CUPD is not pursuing the investigation of a robbery of a convenience store in Cayuga Heights that occurred Sunday, as the CUPD does not see a connection between the robberies near Fall Creek and the robbery of the convenience store.

Original Author: Juan Forrer