COLUMBIA — The city has seen an increase in robberies over the past week, with five reported since Sept. 17. That number is about twice as high as the average for the first six months of 2008, which is just over two robberies per week.
Just past midnight on Sept. 18 an MU student was robbed between Engineering Building East and Switzler Hall on Francis Quadrangle. Later that morning, in an unrelated incident, a man walking down Towne Drive was robbed after leaving a convenience store.
• Keep your front doors and windows clear of signs and posters to allow good, two way visibility. Employees can see suspicious persons outside. Passers-by and police can see inside.
• Keep the outside of your business well lit at night.
• Make sure your cash register area is clearly visible to outside observers.
• Practice good cash control. Keep a minimum amount in your cash drawer and make regular drops into a safe.
• Advertise outside that you keep a minimal amount of cash in the register and that you will not accept large bills.
• Don't keep large bills under the cash drawer. If you don't have a safe, find a less obvious place to hide your extra cash until you go to the bank.
• Use a safe that the clerk cannot open alone or that requires two keys. Post that fact conspicuously, including on the safe itself.
• Use video camera surveillance and make it well known.
• Always have at least two clerks working at night.
• Vary your banking routine. Carry cash in a variety of ways - a lunch sack, attaché case, bag, pocket, etc. Money bags are pretty obvious.
• Vary the times and routes that you use to go to the bank.
• Make deposits as often as possible, never less than once a day.
• Be alert for "customers" who seem to be loitering or glancing around the store while appearing to shop or browse through a magazine.
• Watch for suspicious persons outside the business - especially in parked cars.
• If you see someone who is acting suspicious inside or outside, call the police to have them checked out.
• Two persons should be on hand at opening and closing times.
• At opening time, one person should enter the store and check to see if it has been disturbed.
• Before closing, one person should check the office, back rooms and rest rooms to make sure no one is hiding inside.
• Keep side and back doors locked. Have employees use the main entrance, if possible.
• Place markers at the main entrance that employees can use to help gauge the height of a robber as he leaves.
A pizza delivery driver was robbed by two men on the 1200 block of Elleta Boulevard the night of Sept. 19.
During the early-morning hours of Sept. 21, a man robbed the Fast Lane 66 gas station at 1013 West Blvd. Later that evening, Boone County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a reported robbery on the 6000 block of North Gregory Drive.
On the night of Sept. 17, a woman delivering a pizza in the Sunset Trailer Park was the victim of an attempted robbery by five or six males.
Police have arrested suspects in only one of the robberies in the past week. Three men were arrested by MU police officers in connection with the campus robbery. Demetrius O. Edwards, 18, Stafford D. Lambert, 19, and Michael J. Zellmann, 21, all face second-degree robbery charges.
The other five incidents remain unsolved and police are still looking for the suspects.
None of the victims of the six robberies were seriously injured in the incidents.
In a recent interview, Capt. Zim Schwartze of the Columbia Police Department talked about possible causes for spikes in crime.
“There are certain folks who are very prolific in certain crimes,” Schwartze said. “When we have certain people out on the street they can hit us, just one or two people or little small groups, and it can make a dramatic increase on various crimes.”