Police chief speaks about robberies

By Gabriella Scibetta

There have been reports of multiple robberies on and off campus in the last month, and the Department of Public Safety is working to alert the students and make the campus safer.

A junior from Wauconda studying hospitality, who wished to remain anonymous, was robbed two weeks ago while walking home from a house party.

After meeting two men at the house party and going home with them, the junior was surprised when both guys started beating him and took his phone and money.


“They took everything I had in my hand, and then broke into my house,” he said. “I called the cops and told them everything that happened.”

The criminals took an iPad from the house but his roommates did not notice anything else missing.

“I’m lucky they didn’t take my wallet out of my pocket, it had all my credit cards and debit cards inside,” he said. “All that’s in my wallet now is my student ID and $20.”

After looking at pictures of potential criminals, having dogs sniff around his house and changing the locks on his house, the junior’s perspective has changed.

“I don’t think it’s ever going to stop. The house parties that people have can lead to people going in and stealing a lot of stuff,” he said. “I’m not as friendly as I used to be; I don’t trust anyone.”

Several alerts were sent to SIU email accounts at the end of August about robberies that occurred both on and off campus.

According to the DPS website, the emergency notification is required of colleges and universities under the Clery Act. The department will continue to use a multi-layered approach that also includes the university’s home page, social media and local media outlets.


The Clery Act, also known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, requires universities and colleges that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose any information about crime on and near their respective campuses. The DPS website also includes the university’s 2013 crime report available to the public.

One particular alert was sent Aug. 31, about four days after the incident occurred. Benjamin Newman, DPS chief of police, said the alert was sent late because the department was notified only hours before.

Newman said the robbery had to be appropriately investigated before the alert was sent out. Though it was late, Newman said he

He also said every semester the department puts together a strategic report about what it could focus on for next semester.

“The university has increased [security] presence when school comes back into session,” Newman said. “The university added Saluki Student Patrol and LED lighting, hoping to help decrease the occurrence of incidents.”

Newman said security cameras would be added all around campus.

“We won’t get [coverage] everywhere on campus,” he said. “They aren’t a tool to prevent things to happen, but will help investigate situations.”

Newman said the department’s goal is to develop community strategies, educate the community and eliminate crimes around campus and in Carbondale.

Amber Billings, a freshman from Paducah, Ky. studying dental hygiene, was robbed last November during her college visit.

Billings and three other girls were dropped off on West College Street by an alley. While on her way to a friend’s apartment complex, a man in a black hoodie, walking the opposite direction threatened the group with a gun.

“He said ‘Give me your stuff or I will blow you up,’” Billings said. “My friend and I ran away and found a cop car at a four-way stop nearby.”

Even though the girls did not have much but their cell phones, the man still took all he could, she said.

“I didn’t really hear anything back from the cops,” Billings said. “Nothing on if they caught him or if my friends would get their stuff back. When they came and got the information, the police said that this has happened before by this same criminal.”

Billings said the situation has traumatized her.

“I’m still to the point where I’m paying attention to my surroundings, even when it’s bright outside,” she said.

Billings said it may seem safer to be in a group, but it’s still important for students to be aware of their surroundings.

“I didn’t know if he would pull the trigger,” Billings said. “But I just know one day, it will go too far.”