UPDATE, Dec. 19, 2:30 p.m.: Beginning this week, additional Penn Police, AlliedBarton and Philadelphia Police officers will be patrolling campus, Provost Vincent Price and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli said in an University-wide email. Overtime shifts have been added, and the Division of Public Safety has increased video patrolling on- and off-campus.
A UPennAlert was issued over a robbery with weapon at 38th and Walnut streets around 3:20 p.m. The Division of Public Safety confirmed the victim was a male student affiliated with the University.
The student was robbed at a food cart at the intersection. The suspect came up behind him and demanded his iPhone with a gun, according to DPS.
The male suspect is described to be dark-complexioned, in his late 20s and between 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 11 inches. He was seen wearing a dark green coat, blue jeans and has a full beard.
Additional police have been dispatched into the area. As of 3:38 p.m., the area is all clear, according to a second alert.
Just five days ago, two Penn students were robbed at gunpoint at 40th and Spruce streets, also prompting a UPennAlert.
DPS does not think there is a connection between that incident and today’s, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.
“At this point we don’t think that one person is responsible for the last few but we will look at the connection between the timeline and the location,” she added.
This marks the fifth time that people affiliated with the University have been the victims of robberies this semester. A male student was robbed with what appeared to be a gun on Dec. 1. On Nov. 19, a male student was robbed at 41st and Pine streets by two males. On Sept. 16, an alumna reported that two males kicked her and attempted to grab her purse near 41st and Spruce streets.
None of the suspects have been apprehended, according to Rush.
While this year has seen fewer robberies than last year in — 32 robberies occurred in DPS’s patrol zone from Jan. 1 to Dec. 18 this year compared to 44 in the same period last year — “the thing that makes it feel worse is that [the robberies] are happening close together,” according to Rush. There was one additional point of gun robbery in 2012.
“If there’s anything distinctive about this year, it’s the time of day that things are happening,” she said. She added that DPS has been seeing incidents happen between 8 p.m. and midnight as opposed to 2 or 3 a.m.
“That’s unusual,” she said. “I don’t have analysis of why that is.”
DPS instituted changes Friday after Thursday’s robbery on 40th and Spruce streets to combat this trend. They will begin patrols earlier in the afternoon and expand their concentration further east from their current concentration closer to the 40th street area. Rush added that the earlier patrols would “not in any way deplete the evening shift.”
In addition, DPS will add more members of the Philadelphia Police Department to its patrol.
Some students were not overly concerned about the incidents.
“I’m not too worried,” said Engineering freshman Shriram Sundararaman. “We’re in West Philadelphia. It’s bound to happen, but it’s significantly reduced because we have security patrolling each block.”
Engineering freshman Govind Mattay said that while “the robberies are close,” he feels “safe in the Quad because there’s so much security around.”
Staff writer Harrison Fallon contributed reporting.