Yale was struck by a series of crimes on or near campus in the two weeks before students began moving in to the dorms.
Between Aug. 12-19, Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins emailed members of the University community four times about different incidents that occurred on or near Yale’s campus: three robberies, an attempted robbery and the discharge of a weapon. Higgins said he did not know whether the incidents represented a specific pattern of crime, but encouraged students to avoid displaying valuables especially while moving in.
“It is hard to characterize instances of crime by season or by time of day, as we seek to encourage students to take safety precautions and be aware of their surroundings throughout the year,” Higgins said in a Wednesday email to the News. “But it is certainly the case that when the semester starts, students are busy moving in, and many items such as portable electronics can be a tempting target to thieves.”
On Aug. 12 during a fight on the corner of Church and Chapel Streets at 2 a.m. gunshots were fired, though no one was reported shot. Roughly 30 minutes later a Yale employee was robbed of a wallet at the corner of Sachem Street and Whitney Avenue. Those two incidents were followed by an attempted robbery at Elm and Temple Streets at approximately 2:45 a.m. on Aug. 15.
On Aug. 17 and Aug. 19, two victims were robbed at central campus locations before the sun had set: one individual was robbed of an iPod at 7:25 p.m. in front of 15 Broadway near York Street, while another was robbed of her purse around 6:30 p.m. at Elm and Temple Streets. None of the incidents involved Yale students.
In an Aug. 21 campus-wide email, Higgins discussed the University’s public safety resources and reiterated the YPD’s safety advice to the Yale community. The same email was forwarded to Yale College parents the following day.
In the email, Higgins said students should take advantage of Yale’s safety resources and avoid displaying valuables, jewelry or cash openly, noting that Yale’s campus has seen incidences of “thieves grabbing phones from people’s hands as they are walking,” in line with a national uptick in this type of crime.
“Recent incidents have involved situations where a person walking with a cellphone or other device was distracted by listening to music, or texting, or talking on the phone, which gave the perpetrators the opportunity to strike,” Higgins told the News. “That’s why it is so important for people to stay alert and aware of their surroundings.”
The three robberies came at the very end of a summer that saw eight men murdered in the Elm City since Yalies left campus. These homicides brought New Haven’s 2012 murder count up to 11, down from 23 at this time last year, in which the city saw a 20-year high of 34 homicides.
While New Haven Police Department Chief Dean Esserman said the trend in crime numbers was encouraging, he cautioned that it does not represent a complete victory.
“Behind every statistic there’s a story, and behind every number is a name,” Esserman told the News. “I’m glad we’re bringing down the violence in this city, but that means nothing to a mother who’s lost her child.”
Back on campus, the crime statistics have been on a “steady decline over the past 20 years,” Higgins said. In 2012, 97 percent of on-campus crime has involved property theft.