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Northwestern message on robbery incidents and prevention

Recent incidents are part of a larger trend of more frequent and more brazen robberies in the Chicagoland area
Recent robberies typically target cell phones and wallets and tend to occur at night or early in the morning, according to the statement.

Northwestern leaders delivered a message today after several recent incidents of armed robberies near the Chicago and Evanston campuses. Some of the incidents have impacted members of the University community.

“We wish to raise awareness as media reports on robberies near campuses in the Chicagoland area continue,” wrote Bruce A. Lewis, chief of police and senior associate vice president, and Susan Davis, vice president for Student Affairs.

The robberies typically target cell phones and wallets and tend to occur at night or early in the morning, according to the statement, which continued:

The incidents are part of a larger trend of more frequent and more brazen robberies in the Chicagoland area. Northwestern Police are in constant coordination with Evanston Police and Chicago Police to ensure we are taking appropriate measures to protect our community.

We are actively working with our campus partners to expand resources to supplement Safe Ride and similar services so that we can react quickly.

The Department of Safety & Security will position stationary Community Service Officers in vehicles in strategic locations near campus for monitoring and to assist with student safety transportation in the evenings and early mornings.

The message also offered a series of important reminders.

Safety resources

  • Safe Ride: a safe and free alternative to walking alone after dark on or near the Evanston campus. Download the Safe Ride app.
  • Safety Escorts: a free service to provide a walking escort or to monitor travel on the Evanston or Chicago campuses. Request an escort at (847) 491-3456 in Evanston or (312) 503-3456 in Chicago.
  • Campus Shuttles: free shuttles between the Evanston and Chicago campuses that run late into the night.
  • NUGuardian: a free peer-to-peer mobile app for students to turn their phone into a personal safety device. The app allows students to designate smartphone contacts to act as “guardians” and virtually walk with them on or off campus in Evanston.
  • Consider adding the Northwestern Police telephone number, (847) 491-3456, to your cell phone’s favorite contacts list to reach University Police quickly to report suspicious activity.
  • Get text/phone emergency alerts on Rave: your university email address is automatically enrolled in alerts, but you need to sign up to receive text/phone alerts.

Preventative safety measures

While becoming a victim of crime is never the fault of the victim, the following list of practices may help safeguard individuals.

  • Travel in groups when possible, and always take the safest route, even if it is longer.
  • Use well-lit and busy sidewalks, and avoid deserted sidewalks, vacant lots and alleys.
  • Remain alert, and be aware of your surroundings at all times, including when crossing streets and taking public transportation.
  • Keep electronics and other valuables stored out of sight; avoid using your phone while walking.
  • Avoid wearing earplugs or headphones that prevent you from hearing what is going on around you.
  • If you have a purse or bag, hold it close to your body and carry only necessary money, credit cards and electronics.
  • Know the location of blue light emergency call boxes: these connect directly to the University Police’s dispatch center and identify the location from which you are calling.

What to do if you are targeted in a robbery

  • Stay calm and do what the robber asks. It is better to lose your phone or wallet than to be physically hurt. 
  • Do not resist or argue. 
  • Do not make any quick or unexpected movements.
  • Take mental notes of the robber’s appearance, clothing and actions, including direction of travel or any vehicle description, for a police report.
  • After the robbery, go to a safe location or a well-populated area.
  • Report the crime immediately to Northwestern Police at (847) 491-3456 or to 911.

To learn more, check out Northwestern’s Types of notifications and a Glossary of essential emergency terms. These are new resources explaining the kinds of alerts you might see and key terminology. Additionally, NU Help is a guide for students to navigate Northwestern’s safety and wellness resources.