As the second week of spring term starts up, some students are wondering about their safety on campus after a string of robberies during the weeks leading up to spring break have still gone unsolved.
The Eugene Police Department reports there have been eight robberies near campus between Jan. 1 and April 2 this year; three more than in the same time period last year.
Another robbery occurred on April 5 near 14th Avenue and Patterson Street. Eugene police reported that a 22-year-old woman was pushed to the ground by a male suspect who was trying to steal her purse between 1 and 1:30 a.m..
One of the biggest issues the EPD has encountered is the uptick in social media posts about the robberies.
“We’re really asking people to be careful about their social media posts because it creates panic, and a lot of cases it just didn’t happen,” Eugene Police Department Sergeant Wayne Dorman said. “If they see something and they’re a victim of something, call the police immediately. I wouldn’t tell people not to post, but what’s happening a lot of times is people are hearing something that happened to a friend of a friend and then posting it, and people are getting scared.”
Dorman said the campus robbers seemed to be after whatever the victim had in their pockets and warns against walking alone at night around the time many are leaving bars.
“If you’ve been out drinking, it’s really important that you plan ahead of time for a way to get home,” Dorman said. “If you’re walking, make sure you walk in groups, don’t be out and heavily intoxicated by yourself, stay away from dark areas. We haven’t had any incidents where people are in groups of even two or three have had an issue, so it’s all been sole victims.”
Dorman also said a good way to stay safe is to take a self-defense class rather than carrying a self-defense weapon like pepper spray.
“I’d recommend that they take some self-defense classes, that way they have a clear understanding of what the limitations to those are,” Dorman said. “What I don’t want to see is somebody getting robbed with a gun to have them pull out pepper spray and get hurt.”
There are a few different options for self-defense classes on campus. The Warrior Sisters, a Eugene-based organization, offers self-defense classes in Eugene twice a week. UO offers a two-credit women’s self-defense class. Students can also request a self-defense workshop for a group through the UO Recreation center.
As the weather warms up, many students may find themselves outside later to enjoy it. If they do, Dorman says to reach out to the resources that UO provides, like the UO Campus Shuttle, which just recently added two more stops to its off-campus route.
With the primary robberies still open, Dorman emphasizes that people should do everything they can to protect themselves.
“The biggest thing is safety in numbers — stay together, don’t be out wandering in the dark and put yourself in a vulnerable position,” Dorman said.
Braedon Kwiecien and Frankie Benitez contributed reporting to this story.