NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ–City police are investigating at least one incident on January 31 where a man was robbed at knifepoint by three other men on Harvey Street in the Fifth Ward, according to a Rutgers University crime alert.
But what the crime alert does not mention is that a similar incident was reported just twenty minutes earlier one block away, according to police radio transmissions.
In that case, New Brunswick police could not locate the victims, a man and woman who did not immediately report the crime. The witness who called the incident in did not want to speak with police in person.
"Can you go to Townsend Street in the area of Railroad Avenue," asks a dispatcher shortly before 7:20pm. "Caller saw some type of [disturbance]… they may have seperated."
"It's going to be three Hispanic males that either [robbed] or attempted to [rob] a Hispanic male and female."
The Harvey Street incident occurred at 7:46pm near French Street. Investigating officers were quick to point out the suspect description matched that of the prior incident.
Yet, the RUPD crime alert makes no mention of the earlier reported incident, just three blocks from the university's downtown Health Sciences campus.
"In this incident the victim, who is not affiliated with the University, reported that he was approached by three male perpetrators, one of which displayed a knife," reads the crime alert.
The robbers made off with the victim's wallet and fled towards Somerset Street, making a right and going towards Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, according to police radio transmissions.
"Descriptions of the perpetrators are limited at this time," reads the crime alert, not mentioning the race of the suspects.
Police radio transmissions indicated the suspects were wearing black sweatshirts and "possibly [in their] early 20's."
Serious crimes often go unreported unless journalists reveal them, despite new policies implemented in 2014 to expand the university's crime alert system beyond what is federally required of colleges.
New Brunswick does typically not use its police resources to alert the public of crimes, beyond occasional press releases. In January, the NBPD only issued just one press release, including varying levels of detail about five different incidents.
By comparison, Rutgers University police have issued two crime alerts during January that were related to three different incidents in January.
Still, multiple people were assaulted, a taxi driver was pistol-whipped, and a disturbed half-naked woman stole a van parked near the Rutgers police station and drove it to Linden, all without crime alerts during the same period
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.