UTA police seek public’s help finding robbers

11/14/2013 9:09 PM

11/19/2013 3:30 PM

UTA police investigating a rash of recent robberies of cellphones released a surveillance video Thursday that shows two men who match the description of robbers who stole cellphones from women on Oct. 30.

A total of six robberies have been reported since Oct. 22, a university spokeswoman said. Four suspects were arrested after one robbery on Nov. 3. The men in the video are suspects in two other robberies and may have committed others, she said.

The latest robbery was reported Nov. 11 by a woman who said a man walked up behind her in the parking lot near Lipscomb Hall and demanded her wallet, university spokeswoman Kristin Sullivan said. The woman told police that she felt the robber put something against her back.

UTA police sent out a MavAlert text message at 7:30 p.m. about the robbery.

According to police, the other robberies occurred:

• Oct. 22: A man displayed a semiautomatic pistol and demanded iPhones from two women about 10:20 p.m. at the university’s Arbor Oaks apartments in the 1000 block of Greek Row Drive.
• Oct. 30. About 8 p.m., a man walked up behind a woman in the 200 block of West Fourth Street and stole her cellphone. About the same time, a man walked up behind a female student near the West Crossing apartments in the 400 block of South West Street and stole her phone. The woman said he got into a white, four-door sedan where another man was sitting.

These are the two robbers linked to the surveillance video. In the video, the men are leaving the College of Business on the evening of Oct. 30.

• Nov. 3: A student reported her cellphone stolen at 2:38 p.m. at the Fine Arts Building. Police tracked the phone to an off-campus location where they found two adults and two juveniles who matched the student’s description of her robbers, according to a police report. After a foot chase and struggle, police arrested one suspect with a .22-caliber handgun. An officer sustained a minor injury during the struggle, police reported. All four were arrested.
• Nov. 8: About 6 p.m. a man in his early 20s walked up behind a female student outside the University Center and grabbed her iPhone and ran away. Witnesses said he circled the Chemistry and Physics Building before running east toward Oak Street.

UTA police do not know if the robberies are related, Sullivan said. Police have increased patrols, particularly after dark and in parking lots, and are working with Arlington police, she said.

The campus newspaper, The Shorthorn had received 103 comments by Thursday afternoon on its website after publishing a letter to the editor from a concerned student.

“We’ve gotten a pretty immense response, which we are not used to,” Shorthorn editor Natalie Webster said.

The newspaper also created an online poll on Nov. 4. Eighty percent of commenters said they don’t feel safe on campus.

Accounting junior Maira Raza takes all her classes in the College of Business. She said the recent news has causes her to fear for her safety even during the day.

“They could come during the day if they want to and shoot up the campus,” Raza said.

Raza said she has noticed and increase in police vehicles, including those of the Arlington Police Department, but she doesn’t think there are enough safety measures in place.

“I think they are doing a good job telling us, but I don’t think they are doing a good job taking care of it,” her friend Amna Saleemi added.

Saleemi is a biology junior who said she often runs to class from her car at night.

Doug Davis, a senior history and modern languages double major, said he doesn’t fear for his safety because there isn’t much he can do to protect himself either way.

“There’s not much more they [the university] can do. What are they going to put up armed sentry guards?” Davis said.

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