Temple University issues warning to students

NORTH PHILADELPHIA - November 14, 2012

Action News spoke with several students who say they received an advisory Wednesday morning from the school warning them of the armed robberies. Police say the robberies are taking place off campus in some of the areas where students live.

On Sunday around 8:30 a.m. two Temple University students were walking along the 2000 block of N 18th Street when a man approached them. He held a gun to one of their faces. A 21-year-old woman handed over her cell phone; the other woman, a 22-year-old, handed over her purse, which had her ID and debit cards inside. The man then fled down 18th Street.

Roughly 12 hours later, around 8:15 p.m., a 19-year-old student was walking along the 1600 block of West Edgely Street. A man pointed a gun at him and ordered him to the ground, but nothing was taken.

Then around 6:00 Monday evening another student was robbed at gunpoint on the 2100 block of N. 16th Street. The 18-year-old had been walking from her nearby home when a man appeared with a large, black semiautomatic handgun and pointed it at her head. He then fled east on Diamond Street with her cell phone.

Police say the latest victim's cell phone does not have tracking capabilities, and the cell phone in the first case had been turned off.

Ray Betzer of Temple University tells Action News, "The city came to us and said we think there may be a pattern here. And whenever there is a pattern we want to make sure our students are aware of it."

A couple students say they were not surprised to hear of these robberies, but will use extra caution.

Sophomore Alexa Bury responded to news of the robberies by saying, "I wasn't too shocked because we do live off campus at Temple."

"It's a part of city life," explains sophomore Dylan Ernst.

Another sophomore, Steve Orlando, says, "I mean, the closer you live it's really not that bad at all. Maybe when you start getting into the outskirts, like, maybe past 18th Street it gets a little sketchier. I think everybody knows going in. It's just cheaper to live further away, so a lot of people will, just basically for that reason."

In addition to the advisory, Temple did send a letter out to the school community warning about a rising trend in cell phone thefts. They advised those on or around campus to use available transportation services, like Owl Loop. They advised against walking and talking on cell phones - likening that to walking down the street with hundreds of dollars in hand. The school is also cautioning against commuters from parking off campus.

Ray Betzer explains, "We also, actually, pay the city of Philadelphia's police department to increase patrols in neighborhoods during those times that we've seen crime patterns that indicate there needs to be additional patrols."

Police are investigating to see if there is any connection in these armed robberies. Investigators are also trying to track down surveillance footage.

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