A Morse sophomore was the victim of an armed robbery yesterday morning on Lynwood Place, adding to a string of robberies reported to police in the last few weeks, University Police Lt. Michael Patten said.
Christopher McClowry ’07 identified John Singley, a 19-year-old New Haven resident, as his assailant. Police Sgt. Jay Jones arrested Singley, who was charged with robbery in the first degree, but a woman with Singley during the mugging has not been apprehended, Patten said.
“The student was walking down the street when he was approached by a man with what he thought was a shotgun,” Patten said. “They told him to give up his wallet and his watch.”
McClowry said a woman acted as Singley’s accomplice during the robbery. There was also a woman with Singley when he was stopped by Jones, McClowry said, but he was not able to identify her.
“I was facing the man holding the gun, so I was not able to take a look at the woman,” McClowry said. “The woman took my ATM card, and she asked for the PIN number. I gave her the correct PIN number because the guy stayed with me and the woman went to the ATM. I figured if I gave them the wrong number, the woman would come back and it would upset them.”
McClowry said Singley held him at gunpoint for about a minute before taking his watch and running away. McClowry later learned from his bank that the woman had entered the wrong PIN number and could not make a withdrawal, he said.
McClowry said he was walking home from Sigma Chi elections, which lasted until about 4 a.m, at the time of the incident.
In response to the robbery, Morse College Master Frank Keil sent an e-mail yesterday informing Morse students of the incident. Keil asked students to read the “Safety Awareness” e-mail University Police Chief James Perrotti sent to the Yale student community Tuesday, in which he advised students to take common sense safety measures to ensure their protection.
Keil could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.
Thomas Dolan ’05, a Morse student who lives on Lynwood Avenue, said yesterday morning’s incident is the first robbery he has heard of on his street. Dolan said he usually feels safe walking on Lynwood, but the incident has made him reconsider his feeling of safety.
“It took me back a little bit that someone was mugged literally 20 feet from my home,” he said.
Dolan said friends shared the same sentiment. He said several of them contacted him after receiving Keil’s e-mail because they knew he planned to walk home late from the Morse library and were worried he had been the robbed student.
Patten said more robberies tend to occur late in the fall semester when cold weather affords thieves the opportunity to wear more layers of clothing, since large coats can be used to conceal stolen items or weapons.
“People are wearing more clothes,” he said. “They can easily conceal their identity by wearing hats.”
Perrotti said in his e-mail other robbery incidents reported to University Police in recent weeks have occurred near the intersection of College and Chapel streets, at Prospect and Grove streets, and at Canner and Starr streets. Two individuals have been arrested in connection with these prior incidents, he said.
Patten said the recent robberies have stemmed from victims walking alone between 12:00 and 4:30 a.m.
“One of the common factors is that people are out alone at bad hours,” he said.
Perrotti advised students to take extra precautions when shopping, parking vehicles and walking at night.
“Whenever possible, walk in well-lit areas and avoid walking alone,” Perrotti said. “If possible, avoid carrying a purse since that can be an easy target. Park your vehicle in a safe, well-lit location. Keep packages and valuables out of plain sight.”
New Haven Police Department spokesperson Bonnie Winchester said it is important to keep valuables out of sight whenever possible, citing personal experience.
“My car was broken into because there was a quarter in the ashtray,” she said. “Crime prevention is so much about helping yourself.”