Recent robberies raise concerns

The start to a new year has brought with it a new concern for student safety. Personal harassment and robbery incidences have been increasing, occurring on Albert Street, and other areas surrounding Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo.

One particular incident occurred on Sept. 5, where an individual walking on Albert Street, near Bricker Academic, around 5 a.m. was robbed by a group of four males and received minor injuries. However this is not the only incident that has occurred.

Olaf Heinzel, public affairs co-ordinator of Waterloo regional police services, brought to light the current situation affecting Waterloo residents. He said that there have been “a number of robberies — personal robberies in the area over recent weeks that we are currently investigating.”

He continued to say, “We have a team of detectives working on these, and in most of these incidents, the robbery consisted of someone having a cell phone or one of their valuables taken. Some cases it’s been cash, in many of these scenarios we’ve had one or two victims generally on foot and they were approached by a group of people and were robbed, so the incidents vary in terms of time, location obviously and descriptions for the suspects.”

Heinzel emphasizes that even though Waterloo is generally a safe community, it is crucial for people to use all their senses, especially if they are walking alone or in an unfamiliar area.

“Keep in mind,” Heinzel said, “that we live in a safe community, but there are precautions to take.” He explained that something officials encourage is for people to be aware when they are walking alone, or in unfamiliar areas.

“What we find sometimes,” he clarified, “Is that people are wearing their earphones, using their iPods, and they’re talking on their cell phones. They’re basically distracted, and they’re not able to hear what’s going on around them. We have had incidents where people have approached from behind.”

A fourth-year double major of biology and psychology at WLU, Kathryn Deeming, agreed fully with Heinzel. Deeming added, “Don’t walk around on your own, try to be aware of what’s going on around you. Don’t focus in your own little world when you’re walking.”

Deeming also suggested a very creative way to keep safe in situations where individuals have to walk alone. “I have friends who if they have to walk alone, they talk to someone on their phone but they just talk to themselves.

So then if someone was going to think, ‘I’m going to go up and … you know … their going to know that [someone is] going to hear something happen.”

However in the case that someone is approached or attacked by a stranger, Heinzel warns that, “The personal safety is first, because obviously no one wants to get hurt over the loss of something like a cell phone — which can be replaced.

“So, it’s really just a matter of diligence and being aware of your surroundings; having a plan, staying in a visible area, using all of your senses and just make smart choices. If you can arrange transportation after hours, all the better.”

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