VCU Police encourage students every semester to be active participants in their personal safety by being aware of any suspicious activity around them and quickly reporting crimes they see. One student’s efforts to stop an off-campus robbery resulted in the speedy arrest of four individuals after he alerted police about an attempted robbery he witnessed in the Carver neighborhood.
The student reported he had seen an attempted robbery on the 1100 block of West Grace Street at 11:45 p.m. on March 29.
“The witness was parked in their car and saw a van pull up to the young male sitting on his motorcycle. … A black male stepped out of the van and pulled out a shotgun and demanded that the cyclist hand over his backpack,” said Chris Preuss, VCU assistant police chief.
Preuss said that the motorcyclist did not take the threat seriously and sped off before anything was taken.
“He was lucky; even though he got away, he could have (been) in a lot of danger,” Preuss said.
The actions of the witness fall in line with one of VCU PD’s key initiatives: “See something shady – call 828-1234,” a message to students to report suspicious activities. Preuss said that quick student response is imperative for quick results.
After the unsuccessful robbery, the van was spotted by another alerted officer driving on Clay Street through the Carver area and was eventually tracked down near the intersection of Moore and Harrison streets.
The suspect who pulled the gun on the motorcyclist got out of the van and attempted to run away from the police but was apprehended near the Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School with a loaded shotgun. Inside the van were two other men and a female driver.
Student David Lindsey lives in Carver where the police tailed the van and said he appreciates the police’s hard work.
“It was really cool that they were able to catch them so fast. It makes me feel better to hear a story like that rather than see a crime report,” he said.
“Sometimes victims call hours after the incident (and) it makes things more difficult for us,” Preuss said.
Preuss said that the series of events and quick arrest were uncommon.
“It was kind of rare; the stars had to be aligned for us for the way it worked out,” he said. “If the student had called a few minutes later, or a patrolling officer had driven a different way down the street, we would not have been able to catch the suspects the way we did.”
Preuss said that the police have not changed their vigilance from last semester but are currently trying to put out more follow-up information to the public.
In addition to their “See something shady” initiative, VCU Police has contracted with private security firm G4S in an attempt to raise awareness and street presence of security on and off campus.
“We want students to know that we are working hard and we do have success,” Preuss said. “We want to stop the crime reports to go out without any follow ups or updates.”