Several Blair students have become victims of armed robbery in Takoma Park, where a dramatic increase in theft has occurred in the past eight months, according to a Takoma Park police crime comparison.
According to the Takoma Park Police Department, the number of robberies there has risen 26.3 percent since January of this year. The increase in crime has affected many Blair students residing in or near Takoma Park.
A 2002 Blair graduate was violently attacked on July 23. A man, described in a Takoma Park police report as 5'7'', black and bald, slashed the tires of her car after trying to enter the vehicle. He then used the butt of a knife to break the window on the driver's side of the car and stabbed her twice in the right arm and once in between the fingers of her left hand. She was rushed to a hospital where she was treated and released the next day.
At approximately 9:30 p.m. in the 100 block of Tulip Ave, the man approached her as she exited her car. After noticing that the man was staring at her and mumbling to himself, she got back in her parked car, locked the doors and started the engine. After the attack, she was able to drive to the end of the street where she was assisted by neighbors until the police arrived.
While walking to a friend's house on Columbia Ave on June 30, junior Lauren DalBello and a friend were approached by a man holding a handgun who instructed them to give him their money.
After combining the change they had, DalBello accidentally dropped the money on the ground. "My friend told me later that while I was picking up the change, he was steadily pointing the gun at my head," said DalBello. The man left with $6.50, and DalBello and her friend were not harmed.
Although her life was threatened, DalBello is not upset about the event. "I would have preferred to be in my position rather than his any day because he has to use violence and handguns to get money," explained DalBello.
According to Police Affairs Specialist Carol Bannerman, despite the recent increase in crime, the Takoma Park police have had an unusually high closure rate, which is the percentage of crimes that have been solved. Police have charged suspects in 11 of 24 robberies between January and July and believe they have successfully identified the perpetrators in several more incidents. However, they do not have enough proof to press charges in the other 13 cases. Takoma Park's closure rate of 45.8 percent nearly doubles the national rate of 26 percent, according to Bannerman.
Takoma Park Chief of Police Cynthia Creamer believes that a recent increase in unemployment may be one factor among many that have led to the crime increase. "When people are unemployed, they have to find money. They have to find a way to survive," explained Creamer.
Students should take important measures for protection, Creamer said. "There's safety in numbers. If you're traveling from one party to another, do so in a group of friends, not by yourself," she stressed.
Females should be especially cautious in unfamiliar situations, said Bannerman. "I wouldn't recommend that teenage girls go walking at 12:00 at night," she said. Bannerman also feels that teens should be aware of their surroundings and advises them to watch out for parked cars full of suspicious people.
Creamer said that although students should always tell their parents where they are going, they often do not. "With age usually comes wisdom," explained Creamer. "In reality, it's for their own safety. Anything can happen in this day and age."
Robbery is not the only type of crime that is on the rise. According to the Takoma Park Police Department, auto theft in Takoma Park has also experienced an increase of 36.5 percent since January of last year.
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