String of robberies targets Walnut and South street bridges
All three victims were affiliated with Penn
November 4, 2013, 6:13 pm · Updated November 4, 2013, 9:35 pm·
Brittany Binler | DP
A suspected male robber has been targeting individuals walking alone across the Walnut and South street bridges at night.
The 30 to 40-year-old dark-complexioned male is alleged to have committed three robberies over the past five days on the Center City side of the Schuylkill River between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. In two of the incidents, which occurred on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, the suspect threatened his victim with a gun. All three victims were affiliated with Penn.
The Division of Public Safety sent a University-wide email about the robberies on Monday afternoon.
“When we find a discernible pattern like that, we’re absolutely going to put out an advisory,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.
Prior to DPS’ Monday email to the Penn community, a series of five robberies unrelated to the bridge robberies occurred in the Penn Patrol Zone between Oct. 25 and Nov. 1.
Two juveniles were arrested in connection with a robbery that occurred behind the Radian on Oct. 25. Two robberies from Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 are still under investigation, and DPS is trying to ascertain further details about a fourth robbery which was reported on Oct. 29. An unaffiliated male was arrested in connection with a robbery that occurred at 4200 Chestnut St on Nov. 1.
Rush said that the amount of robberies near campus is “unusual” because of the “major decrease” in crimes against people — offenses such as robbery and assault — in past years.
She added that there was no University-wide alert sent in response to the five unrelated robberies because there was no pattern among those crimes, whereas there was a clear pattern for the bridge robberies.
On Friday, a Penn Police supervisor sent an email to University staff members about five robberies on or near campus that were believed to be perpetrated by a male who was targeting women. The email was eventually forwarded to several sorority listservs.
The officer’s “intentions were very pure and admirable but the facts got a little confused,” Rush said, as the five robberies noted in the email were unrelated to the bridge robberies.
As for the bridge robberies, Rush stressed that people who want to use the bridge at night should remain aware of their surroundings, and use Penn services that can get them safely to their destinations.
“Particularly, when people are going to the Center City area, we would ask that people use the resources that are free [and keep them safe] — like PennTransit — to get there,” Rush said.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the South Street Bridge as the Spruce Street bridge.