University Police yesterday increased off-campus patrols in response to a recent increase in armed robberies. Police have shifted coverage to add a new, 24-hour walking beat for the area between 40th and 41st streets from Locust Street to Pine Street. A University Police car will patrol an additional route between 40th and 43rd streets from Chestnut to Baltimore streets. Police have also extended another beat to include the 4000 block of Walnut Street. Police spokesperson Sylvia Canada said the main focus of the new beats is to improve safety on the 4000 blocks of Pine and Spruce streets. Canada said the new beats will put officers in a better position to stop crimes in progress and will increase visibility to stop others from occurring. "There has been an increase in activity in that area," Canada said. "It's really hot in that area right now." This past weekend, police responded to two violent incidents in the area. College junior Roberta Koeppel was severely injured Friday night when she was run over by a van during a robbery attempt on the 4000 block of Locust Street. In another incident, a student was robbed at knifepoint early Sunday morning on the 4000 block of Pine Street. According to Canada, the new patrols are not likely to become permanent, but will last until police have improved safety in the area and discouraged would-be robbers. University Police frequently shift beats to cover shifting high-crime areas. Officers covering areas with low crime rates are transfered to the more active areas. Canada said the majority of the crimes in the area have been violent, usually involving a weapon. This fall alone, police have responded to several reported armed robberies and a pellet-gun shooting in the new coverage area. She said the area is a prime target for criminals because there are few street lights and those exisiting are obscured by overgrown trees. She also said the streets are lined with shrubberies at some points, providing cover to criminals. She said the department and a few neighbors have contacted city officials about trimming the trees to improve lighting but police do not expect any help until spring. "It's very dark," she said. "The streets are very dirty. They're really good places for crimes to happen." Also contributing to crimes, she said, is Billybob's restaurant at 40th and Spruce streets. The 24-hour convenience store and restaurant has a game room and attracts people from off-campus which can sometimes lead to crime, Canada said. But the spokesperson added that the business is no more of a problem than any of the other 24-hour businesses around campus. Canada said police also hope to encourage residents on these streets to take a more active role in preventing crime. She said there are no neighborhood organizations there, since most houses are occupied by students. But police hope to arrange sessions for residents to meet each other and learn ways to reduce crime, she said, adding that the department would suggest forming a neighborhood watch system.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.