EDITOR’S NOTE: This semester WTVR.com has partnered with VCU’s School of Mass Communications “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project. Those VCU students reported the following story.
By Zachary Holden and Nicolas Nightingale (Special to WTVR.com)
RICHMOND, Va. – Although students tend to be more cautious on VCU’s urban campus at night, police reports show that there have been more than 155 incidents during the daylight hours just this semester alone. An incident on Thursday afternoon was even caught on camera [Click here to view report]
With crimes occurring on and near campus, students must remain attentive at all times, said VCU Police officer Matt Ruland.
“I know it scares people when they see stuff happening during the day, but you need to be vigilant all hours of the day. And that’s anywhere you go, not just the city of Richmond, not just VCU,” he said.
Overall, police reports show that 451 crimes were committed at VCU since the beginning of the semester. 183 incidents involved a second party and 81 of those happened during the day. Reported crimes include larcenies, thefts, robberies, burglaries, assaults and vandalism.
Despite all of these crimes occurring during the day, VCU students interviewed for WTVR.com were unaware of the frequency of incidents.
“I know they don’t want to scare the students, but I mean it’s our safety, so I feel like we should know,” said student Ben James.
“I wasn’t aware, but that makes me a little scared,” said student Jessie Carroll. “I commute, so I have to walk from the parking deck every time I have to go to class.” She also said that she used to feel safe during the day, but not so much anymore.
James and fellow student T.J. Herlihy said they feel safe and wouldn’t normally expect much crime during the day. But as the sun goes down, their precautions go up.
“Night time, you definitely have to be more aware,” said Herlihy.
“It’s a totally different story,” added James.
Just on Thursday an incident occurred at around 2:30 p.m. outside of the Life Sciences Building on VCU’s Monroe Park campus. A suspect ran from the building, attempting to flee two individuals who were perusing him. The suspect allegedly stole something from a woman’s purse inside the building, according to police.
Student Yash Barot, who was sitting outside in plain view right when the incident occurred, described what he saw.
“These two gentlemen brushed right past me and were screaming. ‘Stop that guy! Stop that guy!’ said Barot. “So I turned around…and I walked down and I see him get arrested.”
According to Ruland, students should use this lesson to increase awareness, but not be scared of their surroundings. He said that students need to take the necessary steps to ensure their safety.
“One of my key messages to people is … I just want you to really just look around,” said Ruland. “You just need to pay attention and use what I call street smarts.”
This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between WTVR.com and VCU’s School of Mass Communications.