Archive for Sunday, February 14, 2010

Robberies on the rise

Typical victim is young man, late at night

Robberies by the year, 2007-2009

Robberies by the year, 2007-2009

February 14, 2010


Google Map

Robberies in Lawrence, 2007-2009

View Robberies in Lawrence, 2007-2009 in a larger map

How KU compares to other Big 12 campuses

Using data from the U.S. Department of Education, these are the total number of robberies reported on Big 12 campuses for 2006-2008. Data from 2009 was not available for schools other than KU.

School - Robberies - Enrollment

Texas - 31 - 47,344

Colorado - 16 - 30,196

Missouri - 11 - 31,314

Texas Tech - 9 - 30,049

Texas A&M; - 7 - 5,153

Nebraska - 4 - 24,100

Oklahoma - 4 - 24,728

Iowa State - 3 - 27,945

Kansas - 3 - 26, 826

Kansas State - 2 - 23,581

Baylor - 1 - 14,614

Oklahoma State - 0 - 22,844

As Kansas University student Kyle Rhodes walked home from a party last September, a group of people approached him in an alley near Ohio Street.

“I felt something cold at my head,” Rhodes said.

It was a gun.

Someone told him not to move, forced him to the ground and stole his wallet.

That robbery — an experience Rhodes described as “terrifying” — was just one of an increasing number of similar crimes in the area. A Journal-World study of the 224 robberies reported to Lawrence and KU police between 2007 and 2009 found:

• The number of robberies reported in 2009 increased by about 20 percent from 2008 and 2007.

• On average, the number of robberies increased from about 52 a year between 2000 and 2005 to more than 77 between 2006 and 2009.

• The use of guns increased from 16 in 2007 and 11 in 2008 to 27 in 2009.

• Robberies have increased from 11 in 2007 to 27 in 2009 in an area near downtown bordered by Sixth, 14th, Rhode Island and Mississippi streets.

Not only was Rhodes a robbery victim, but he’s also a typical Lawrence robbery victim: He’s under age 25 and was robbed late at night.

In the cases in which information about victims was reported:

• Nearly half of victims were younger than 25.

• 72 percent were men.

• 57 percent of robberies occurred between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Robberies by the year, 2007-2009

Robberies by the year, 2007-2009

Robberies by demographic, 2007-2009.

Robberies by demographic, 2007-2009.

Police response

The upward trend in robberies is a quality-of-life concern in Lawrence, said Sgt. Bill Cory of the Lawrence Police.

“Any increase is not a good increase,” he said. “We like to think that Lawrence is a great place to live.”

Cory said local police are aware of when and where Lawrence robberies are most common, and they monitor those trends to customize police patrols.

About this project

During summer 2009, it appeared Lawrence was becoming the place for robberies.

Nearly every weekend brought another report of someone in our community being victimized.

Those reports led to questions about whether robberies were increasing in Lawrence, as well as the circumstances of such crimes. In order to understand the answers to these questions, the Journal-World filed Open Records requests with the Lawrence police and Kansas University’s Department of Public Safety, seeking reports of all robberies reported in the past three years.

Here is how each agency responded and how accessible such records are to the public:

• Lawrence police provided the requested information free of charge by releasing the police report numbers for all cases. Those numbers were then used to search the Lawrence police online database. All crime reports can be accessed by the public at

• KU estimated the cost of providing the reports for 11 campus robberies at more than $300, which was cost-prohibitive for this project. KU Public Safety’s Web site, however, does provide much of the information on daily crime logs, which can be viewed at

Not all information about each robbery was available. In some cases, information was missing from the police report, or the information was protected because of an accompanying sexual assault or domestic violence crime.

“We do keep track of these things,” he said. “We proactively investigate these things.”

However, Cory did not specify whether police compile crime maps, nor did he provide other details about how police monitor local crime trends.

Last year, reported robberies at KU spiked to the highest number in more than 10 years, with eight reported to campus police. The increase in robbery reports led to patrol changes on campus, said KU Public Safety Captain Schuyler Bailey. Campus police began focusing more on areas where previous robberies had occurred. This move has led to “no additional robberies” in those areas, he said.

Tips for reducing the likelihood of being robbed

Sgt. Bill Cory of the Lawrence Police Department and Captain Schuyler Bailey of the KU Public Safety Office said education and awareness are the keys to reducing the likelihood of being robbed.

They offer these tips:

• Walk on lighted sidewalks.

• Avoid alleys and stay on the main roads when walking at night.

• Use campus services, such as SafeRide (864-SAFE), or call a friend instead of walking home from a bar.

• Be aware of your surroundings and walk with your head up.

• Don’t take unfamiliar shortcuts.

If you are a robbery victim, Lawrence police Sgt. Bill Cory said you can help police if you:

• Get the best possible description of the robber or robbers. Any details can help.

• Call police as soon as possible.

• Be aware of exactly where you are so police can respond quickly.

Arrest rates

According to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, an arrest was made for only 40 percent of robbery reports made to Lawrence police between 2006 and 2008. While that might not be comforting to victims, the Lawrence police arrest rates for robbery per incident is significantly higher than statewide numbers:

• Between 2006 and 2008, a total of 213 robberies were reported and 86 arrests were made for robberies in Lawrence, or 40 percent.

• Statewide, for the 5,517 reports of robbery made to police, there were only 1,051 arrests, or 19 percent.

Just a note on those statistics: One person might be arrested for more than one robbery, or multiple people can be arrested for one crime.

Of the eight robbery reports made to the KU Public Safety in 2009, arrests have been made in five cases, Bailey said. In one of the other cases, police determined that the robbery did not actually occur on campus.

Why more robberies?

With Lawrence seeing double-digit increases in robbery reports between 2008 and 2009, as well as sharp increases over the past decade, is the bad economy to blame?

Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld, from the University of Missouri-St. Louis, said years of study closely match robberies with tough economic times.

“During downturns we do see an increase in crimes like these,” Rosenfeld said.

But with so many factors associated with crime rates, it’s impossible to specifically say crime has increased in a certain area, such as Lawrence, because of the economy.

“It’s hard to know,” Rosenfeld said.

While Lawrence has seen an increase, Rosenfeld said that nationally robberies rates are a “mixed bag,” with some larger cities even seeing decreases.

The bad news, said Rosenfeld, is that it takes time for crime rates to increase after economic downturns, meaning robberies could continue to increase locally.

“There’s typically a lag, sometimes a year,” he said.

Personal safety

Regardless of police presence, there’s simply too much area to cover for local police to prevent all robberies in Lawrence, Cory said.

He advises an increased awareness of the prevalence of local robberies and some personal safety tips that can help people reduce the likelihood of being victimized.

For Rhodes, the robbery was a wake-up call about walking alone at night in Lawrence, something he no longer does.

“It helps me in a way to be more cautious,” he said.


nobody1793 7 years, 11 months ago

I thought concealed carry was supposed to deter crime. Not saying that CCers are responsible for the crimes, but the muggers don't seem too scared.

thewayiseeit 7 years, 11 months ago

I travel with my Austrian friend, Gaston Glock.

parrothead8 7 years, 11 months ago


People who commit robberies don't usually feel "entitled." They feel desperate, and part of the reason is because eight years of W, Inc. made the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, culminating in the worst economic crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression. Your whole "robberies are Obama's fault" schtick is tiresome and laughable.

Kyle Chandler 7 years, 11 months ago

Its totally the presidents fault!


this is great comedy!

oneeye and lawrenceguy are like the cowboys in 'Blazing Saddles'

nothing more entertaining than reading the top most ignorant posts of the day!

Adrienne Sanders 7 years, 11 months ago

It's hard to walk on a lighted sidewalk when there isn't one. I'm glad I don't live in the student ghetto anymore.

Katara 7 years, 11 months ago

"In the cases in which information about victims was reported:

• Nearly half of victims were younger than 25.

• 72 percent were men.

• 57 percent of robberies occurred between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m." ~~~~~~~~~~~~ And most likely have consumed alcohol. Criminals target people they believe are unlikely/or unable to resist. Somebody walking home from a party where they had a couple of beers makes a good target.

Liberty275 7 years, 11 months ago

What we really need to see is the faces and names of those convicted of robbery on the front page of the newspaper/web site. Knowing who the victims are isn't nearly as helpful as knowing who the criminals are.

kernal 7 years, 11 months ago

"...they're just implementing barry o's policy...".

Tell me lawrenceguy40, just where can I find this policy? I don't recall seeing it anywhere.

Liberty275 7 years, 11 months ago

"People who commit robberies don't usually feel “entitled.” They feel desperate"

Yeah, desperate for more meth or crack.

And while they may not feel "entitled" the continuous deriding of private property certainly lends to the idea that what I own is negotiable either at the whim of a politician backed up by a police force or a more generic scumbag backed up by a stolen pistol.

George_Braziller 7 years, 11 months ago

I've lived in East Lawrence for 17 years and have never thought twice about walking alone at night. The map shows what people who live here already know. East Lawrence is a good place to live. Can't say the same about the eight years I lived in the Oread Neighborhood.

Moderateguy 7 years, 11 months ago

Moocher nails it... Oh, and if you would prefer less dots, we should elect an effective district attorney.

BigPrune 7 years, 11 months ago

Smart growth ruined our quality of life by creating a strain on our local economy, encouraging low paying jobs by stigmatizing Lawrence as difficult to deal with for higher paying industry and the 'living wage' law, enabling a higher cost of living by rationing room for growth which resulted in depreciated property values, and lower sales taxes when the population decreased from 2000 to 2010.

Of course the powers that be wouldn't believe this to be true, but just look at the statistics. "We" (our elected and non-elected no growth anti-business) officials created this environment we live in. Are our local citizens better off today than 10 years ago? Nope. Lawrence was a trend setter before the national economy tanked. Our local economy has been tanking since 2001 and never recovered from 9/11 because the "progressives" took over and lead us down the path of ruin instead of recovery.

parrothead8 7 years, 11 months ago

Liberty275 (Anonymous) says… And while they may not feel “entitled” the continuous deriding of private property certainly lends to the idea that what I own is negotiable either at the whim of a politician backed up by a police force or a more generic scumbag backed up by a stolen pistol.

Or at the whim of giant corporations who buy the votes necessary to make our laws more favorable to their business dealings...corporations whose CEOs just happen to be good buddies with most of the people who ran the country from 2001-08.

Obama-bashers can suck it up and deal. The other side got to do what they wanted for eight years and it resulted in where we are now...more Americans out of work than at any other time in our history. It's going to take longer than a year or two to dig out of the mess.

And how, lawrenceguy40, is the President "robbing" hard workers? A very large majority of the American population makes under $200,000 a year, and I don't see any of them getting robbed by Obama. I'm one of them, my taxes worked out in a very favorable manner this year, AND it looks like I'll finally be able to afford to buy a house.

Flap Doodle 7 years, 11 months ago

"...corporations whose CEOs just happen to be good buddies with most of the people who ran the country from 2001-08." The lobbyists poured more money into Washington last year than ever before. They found plenty of eager hands reaching out for it. Why do you think so many Democrats are pulling the ripcord and leaving DC? They've gotten the big bucks they came for and want to be safely retired & out of the public eye.

Liberty275 7 years, 11 months ago

"Or at the whim of giant corporations who buy the votes"

You mean like

ECM 7 years, 11 months ago

Don't you think that a lot of the guys are targets because they don't usually worry about being targets? Young women are usually taught through their young adult years to be careful. Don't know any young college aged guys who worry.

Shaun Hittle 7 years, 11 months ago

ECM, That's what I think. I'm a young guy and never worry about walking home alone, but all my female friends do. A lot of the guys I interviewed for this said the same.

Shaun Hittle LJW

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