Columbia experiencing robbery spike in recent days

Monday, September 22, 2008 | 7:52 p.m. CDT; updated 10:43 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 22, 2008

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.

Robbery Prevention Tips

• 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.”

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Charles Dudley Jr September 22, 2008 | 8:23 p.m.

Maybe the good citizens of Columbia should look at going taking their streets back themselves in the future. It seems our City Government would much rather fund the building of bike trails,tennis courts and ugly art projects than protect it's citizens. After all the good citizens of Columbia could stand on the Second Amendment as their reason for standing up and protecting themselves and their neighbors.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 23, 2008 | 8:47 a.m.

I don't understand this article, so I'll ask some questions...

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.”

1. What are the other possible causes for spikes in crime? The Capt. only seems to be saying that it's because there are criminals out on the street. Duh!

Robbery Prevention Tips: Source, Columia Police Dept.
(a list of at least 20 suggestions for a business owner and there's no mention of having a weapon under your counter.)
Also, only one of the 5 recent robberies reported involved an on premises theft.
2. Why is there no mention of what people out in the open should be doing to protect themselves? Chuck seems to be advocating carry a loaded pistol. (The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the United States Bill of Rights that protects the pre-existing individual right to possess and carry weapons (i.e. "keep and bear arms") in case of confrontation.
3. What does Capt. Schwartze think about encouraging the public to carry hardcore weapons? What are the Captain's alternatives in a city with an increase in unsolved crimes?
4. Why is there no "community affairs/P.R. department" at CPD?
Officers seem to be less friendly and less "public service" oriented now, more than ever. Good P.R. goes a long way!

One reason that criminals outside Columbia are learning that we are "easy pickings" may be because "to serve and protect" became "to wait and record!"
5. What's the deal with our plainclothes detectives?
(I'd rather know we're getting more detectives then uniformed police.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 23, 2008 | 9:25 a.m.

ray shapiro I do not advocate citizens having to openly carry guns per say but with all of this crime we have in our city citizens should be able to protect themselves. If I was married you dam right I would spend the money to put my wife through a certified hand gun training coarse to teach her how to shoot that hand gun in protecting herself and protect her children as well in case of any problems. I would also go as far as paying for her martial arts classes,Mace Certified Classes too. Dam straight she would be a one woman weapon on the street fully capable of protecting her family if needed.
There is no more powerful weapon on the street than a fully capable mother trained as I posted above who is protecting herself,her children or a common citizen if the need arose. She will not hesitate to do what must be done to protect. Just gotta love those women with those motherly instincts. :)

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 23, 2008 | 9:37 a.m.

--Been noticing more informercials, in the wee early morning hours, encouraging women to purchase there own personal taser. Wouldn't be a bad idea for the Pizza Restaurants to make these standard issue for their delivery guys, right along with their insulated pizza bags. Shocking!

(Report Comment)

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