The USC Department of Public Safety issued three crime alerts warning the students, faculty and staff of multiple cell phone robberies around campus, including at least two that involved a firearm.
“We have had a number of students who have lost their cell phones, and one of the common factors is that students are walking alone, sometimes after dark, talking on their phones and not paying attention to their surroundings,” DPS Assistant Chief David Carlisle said.
The first incident was reported last Saturday night. Two suspects in a dark sedan approached a student. One of the suspects punched the student in the face and forcefully took his cell phone, according to the USC DPS Safety Logs. Both suspects fled the scene.
The next two offenses reported Tuesday took place at the same location, according to the fire and safety logs.
“We believe that the suspects are similar in nature, based on the descriptions,” DPS Crime Analyst Wyman Thomas said. “Of course, clothing easily changes from day to day, but based on the general descriptions provided by the victims, we believe that they are pretty much the same individuals.”
In the second incident, the suspects were parked on Royal Street. They confronted and threatened a student with a handgun, demanding her cell phone and money. The victim eventually handed over her personal belonging to the suspects.
“Using a handgun is unusual,” Carlisle said. “We are working with LAPD to try and resolve these crimes and capture these suspects.”
In the third case Tuesday, the suspects also threatened another student with a handgun in order to take her phone. The suspects drove away down Figueroa Street.
According to Carlisle, in response to these reports, DPS has re-deployed security ambassadors, camera operators and DPS officers into the crime areas.
“If you’re in a similar situation, surrender your property right away,” DPS Sergeant Steve Alegre said. “There is nothing worth being injured for when it comes to somebody trying to rob them of their phone or their backpack or purse or whatever the case may be. We highly recommend that you surrender your stuff when asked and then try to get the best description you possibly can.”
DPS encourages all USC students to download the free USC safety application “LiveSafe.” According to Carlisle, the application turns student phones into personal emergency blue light phones, which are located throughout campus. Students can also call DPS via the application.
According to Carlisle, calling will sound an alarm to the communication center so the students are immediately put in touch with dispatchers. Even if the students are in a situation where they are unable to speak, the application can track the student’s location through a GPS system and send help.
“We’re asking for our students’ help,” Carlisle said. “One, if they see something, say something and report any suspicious persons to DPS. And two, to do their part by following our crime prevention tips so they don’t become a victim.”