A recent rash of strong-arm robberies brings a reminder from police to take precautions to avoid crime.
There is no foolproof way to avoid a robbery or mugging, such as the three that occurred in Lawrence in recent days, but there are ways to decrease the likelihood of becoming a victim, Lawrence Police Lt. Kevin Harmon said today.
"The first order of business for anybody is try to avoid situations that could be dangerous," he said. "Be aware of your surroundings -- not that you need to overreact or become paranoid."
Harmon advises keeping car doors locked and windows rolled up and avoiding dark areas.
"There's always safety in numbers," he said. "If it appears something's going to happen, seek safety in a store with other people."
All three Lawrence robberies occurred after dark and were apparently committed by the same suspect. The first was late Nov. 5 in the parking lot of the Dillon's grocery store at 1740 Mass., when a 19-year-old man sitting in his car was approached by a man who said he had a gun. The robber demanded to be driven to the victim's bank and forced the victim to withdraw money from an ATM.
On Tuesday a 24-year-old man was approached outside the same grocery store by a man who asked for a ride. The suspect reportedly produced a handgun and demanded to be taken to the victim's bank. But when the victim said he didn't have a bank, the suspect took $25 in cash from the victim.
Later that evening a Kansas University student reported he was withdrawing money from his bank's ATM at Ninth and Ohio when a knife-wielding robber demanded money and took $30.
If approached by a robber, "do whatever in the world the robber would ask of you," Harmon said. "Once you're actually in the situation, you need to give up the money. I would consider your safety and the potential for injury not worth any amount of money."
@reefer:* In the wake of recent robberies in Lawrence, are you taking any new safety precautions? Answer today's J-W Access question on page 3A.