NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A woman affiliated with Rutgers University suffered “minor injuries” when she refused to comply with an armed robber who approached her on Comstock Street, according to a Rutgers University crime alert.
The New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) are now investigating the incident, along with another knifepoint robbery that occurred just a few minutes later on the other side of the city.
According to the alert, at about 10:20 PM on July 18, the woman was pushed to the ground by the armed robber who approached her on Comstock Street between Jones and Commercial Avenues.
The block was the same location where a double-stabbing was reported on June 23, according to emergency radio transmissions.
“In this incident the victim… reported that she was approached by a male perpetrator who brandished a sharp object while demanding items of value,” read the crime alert, which also stated the victim sustained “minor injuries… and refused medical attention.”
According to the alert, the description of the would-be robber, who fled in “an unknown direction,” is “limited at this time.”
In an interview with CBS New York’s Meg Baker, Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) Chief Kenneth Cop confirmed the “sharp object” used in the attempted robbery was a knife.
The television report also said that the victim was a student at Rutgers, as was the Rutgers-affiliated man robbed seven minutes later across town near the corner of Hamilton and Division Streets.
The news of the robberies was also paired with that of a burglary that occured roughly three hours prior in a downtown medical clinic run by Rutgers Medical School.
The three incidents mark the first time the RUPD has used their “crime alert” system to notify the public of any criminal activity since June 9, when an alert was issued nearly five days after a shooting on Harvey Street, and 26 hours after New Brunswick Today reported on it.
The school’s alerts, which were expanded to include a wider array of incidents in March 2014, have proven to be a critical source of information for city residents, especially those living near the university.
But, as NBToday has reported, the RUPD doesn’t always issue alerts for “serious” crimes in the Fifth and Sixth Wards of New Brunswick, despite its promise to do so.
Still, RUPD is more transparent about its investigations than NBPD, which has become increasingly secretive about who they arrest and what crimes they are investigating.
The vast majority of crimes that police investigate in the city, even shootings and stabbings, come and go without official public notification, unless someone dies, or the incident generates a Rutgers crime alert.
Since taking away the public’s ability to listen to their radio transmissions in January 2016, the NBPD has severely decreased the number of crimes it lets the public know about through press releases, which are posted on the city’s website.
In the first six months of 2015, NBPD issued 29 press releases, mostly about crimes, investigations, and arrests. But, during the same period this year, the NBPD only issued four such releases, including one touting their recent accredition.
Despite the limited public information made available by NBPD, reporters working for NBT, NJ.com, or The Daily Targum sometimes find out about crimes through other sources, and ultimately bring them into the public sphere by publishing articles about them.
Rutgers police also update their online “daily crime & fire safety log” on an almost-daily basis, allowing for the public to learn about investigations that, for whatever reason, don’t generate a crime alert.
NBPD has no such log of criminal incidents, and refuses to release similar information in response to Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests, though they have begun posting copies of all motor vehicle crash reports on the city website.
The NBPD asks that anyone with information about the robberies, or who may have been in the areas where they occurred at the time they occurred, contact their Detective Bureau at 732-745-5217.
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, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.