NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—From June through August, there were only five crimes that the Rutgers University Police Department reported to students through their recently overhauled campuswide notification program.
But the crime alerts are coming in much more frequently now. In the past week alone, students and other community members have been alerted to three different armed robbery attempts in the same general area. And it's not clear how many other similar situations have not generated crime alerts.
Since October 7, there have been six crime alerts issued, including two for different armed robberies that also resulted in assaults this weekend.
With the rapid incline in reports of assaults, home invasions, and armed robberies towards students and non-students alike, the question remains as to how Rutgers and New Brunswick police will respond.
The increasing pace of the alerts, as well as the increasingly severe incidents they describe, has some students and their worried parents concerned over public safety.
Rutgers University officials, including new Director of Public Safety Kenneth Cop, have not responded to questions about the increase in alerts, or the reasons why some of the serious incidents New Brunswick Today heard on the police scanner did not generate alerts.
New Brunswick Today has reported previously on crimes that probably should have caused alerts to be sent to the Rutgers community.
The increase in frequency of crime alerts is reminiscent of one that NBT reported earlier this year, when assaults on students had become far more prevelant in a very short period, around the same time that a college student named Billy McCaw was found dead in a backyard on Hartwell Street on February 15.
On March 13, the school announced the new policy for crime alerts: "All students, faculty, and staff on the New Brunswick Campus will be notified of serious crimes against persons that occur… anywhere in the fifth and sixth wards of the City of New Brunswick."
Four alerts were issued in the first eight days of the new system, and seven more in April, before a whopping eleven alerts went out in the month of May. Only when summer came and students largely left did the number of alerts subside.
The trend continued and, during the entire month of September, there were only two crime alerts, but New Brunswick Today demonstrated that at least one assault that month had not generated an alert.
But, on September 5, after police responded to reports of "a male lying there bleeding," who had just been jumped on in the Fifth Ward, there was no crime alert, even though the alleged suspect remained on the loose.
Days earlier, an assault that sounded less serious and took place on the same block had generated a crime alert.
"The 9/5 incident was classified as a simple assault and did not meet the criteria for an off-campus crime alert," said a unviersity spokesperson after questions about the discrepancy went unanswered for days.
Since October 19, four robberies were deemed worthy of being reported on the Rutgers crime alert system, including three where handguns were displayed and two where victims were injured.
The most recent reported crime occurred on Saturday, November 1 at 7:46pm, and was described as an armed robbery that involved a handgun.
"The victim, who is not affiliated with the University, reported being approached by four males adjacent to a private residence on Delafield Street and proceeded to walk with them towards Richardson Street in an attempt to complete a narcotics transaction," reads the crime alert.
After walking for severals blocks with the suspects, one of the individuals "displayed a handgun while two others assaulted the victim" on Richardson Street near Sicard Street and then "removed items of value from his possession."
Three out of the four perpetrators were described to authorities.
The first as a young black male in his early twenties with short dreadlock-style hair, a blue zip up and red outer vest. The second suspect was described as a black male aslo in his early twenties, withdreadlock-style hair and a tan Carhartt jacket. The third, a black male also in his early twenties, was wearing a black Nike zip up hoodie and black pant. The victim wasw unable to identify the fourth suspect.
One night earlier, an armed robbery that occurred on Plum Street near the intersection with Hamilton Street, garnering a crime alert, while other robberies, assaults, and a number of alcohol overdoses were not reported to the public.
In the Plum Street incident, a person not affiliated with Rutgers was approached by three suspects. While one of them brandished a handgun, the others assaulted him and took valuable possessions from his person.
The suspects, whose descriptions are limited, all fled on foot from the scene following the incident.
As New Brunswick Today reported, that night resulted in reports of overcrowding at the city's hospitals and a shortage of ambulances on emergency radio transmissions.
Earlier that week, a Rutgers University student was the victim of an attempted robbery near the intersection of Mine and Union Streets. He escaped unharmed, after telling the robber he had nothing of value.
During the incident, the perpetrator, described as a heavy-set male with a medium complexion and spiked hair, demanded the victim give him items of value that he had on his person, and also displayed a handgun.
Just a block away on College Avnue, a Rutgers student was assaulted and robbed in an incident in front of Ford Hall. The victim was approached by two males, with limited descriptions, who assaulted him and removed items of value from him.
The perpetrators then fled on foot toward Seminary Place.