Although a recent spate of robberies near Union Station has raised concern among Yale students who frequently walk to the train station, police officials have said these incidents do not indicate a larger trend.
On Jan. 5 and Jan. 27, University faculty, staff and students received public safety updates from Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins announcing that a student had been robbed while walking to the station at 50 Union Ave. The first victim was threatened with a knife, while the other was physically assaulted — both by a group of teenaged males, who eventually made off with the victims’ cell phones and wallets. Right around the same time, a third robbery occurred near Union Station, though the victim was not specifically headed toward the station.
Higgins said the YPD has arrested individuals suspected of involvement in the Yale students’ robberies but that students should remain vigilant about keeping themselves safe.
“At this time of year in particular, many students and faculty are returning to campus from the train station,” Higgins’ Jan. 5 report read. “Please let this message serve as a reminder to take a cab, a city bus or the Yale shuttle back to campus or walk with a group.”
Similarities between the crimes — both took place on Church St. South near Amistad St., for example — have led Higgins to believe that a group of males recently apprehended by New Haven Police Department and the YPD forces is responsible: Authorities arrested two males involved in the third robbery, which took place near Amistad St. on Jan. 27.
If, in fact, those arrested also committed the two Yale student robberies, Higgins is confident that police are not dealing with a major crime trend and that the incidents are likely isolated to one group of suspects.
“I don’t know that [crime around Union Station] is a historical problem,” Higgins said. “What we’re talking about is a group of juveniles, who we arrested, who were very active in the area, and they’re in jail right now.”
Though Union Station is located less than one mile from the NHPD’s 1 Union Ave. headquarters, the students targeted — one from the medical school and the other from an unnamed professional school — were walking down a route that does not pass the department when the robberies occurred.
Rather, NHPD spokesman David Hartman said that these two cases took place between the city’s Hill neighborhood and a public housing complex on Church St. Hartman agreed with Higgins that the incidents do not appear to be part of a larger trend, be it recent or historical, adding that Yale students do not necessarily appear to be the specific targets.
“It certainly has not been a pattern crime,” Hartman said. “The area of Church Street South has posed problems for us with all types of crime. It’s not the highest of high-crime areas, but it has its fair share.”
Students interviewed on Wednesday said they had received the YPD’s alerts about the incidents and that the news has affected their willingness to walk to Union Station from campus.
Audrey Fernandez-Fraser DIV ’16 said she is now much more likely to find other means of transportation in light of the robberies, despite having walked on previous occasions.
William Ratoff GRD ’18 said that, in the wake of Higgins’ recent notifications, he is even less likely to want to walk to the train station.
“I would always take the Yale shuttle anyway,” Ratoff said. “But I’d be more likely to take a taxi [rather than walk.]”
YPD reported 24 incidents of Yale students being robbed in 2012, the last year for which data are available.