RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Police are stepping up patrols near VCU after multiple armed robberies on or near campus, but say the fourth armed robbery reported near the campus was false.
On Thursday, VCU police said the report of a woman getting robbed on North Monroe Street by two men was false. VCU police were originally called to an armed robbery on Monday afternoon around 2:39 p.m. in the 200 block of North Monroe Street on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.
Police said the victim told officers she was walking when two men approached the victim and one pointed a gun at her and demanded her belonging. The robbers took her backpack with personal belongings in it and ran off in an unknown direction.
Officers said after an additional interview with the woman and an extensive search of video, they determined the robbery did not occur. Investigators are continuing their work and a criminal charge in connection to this false report is pending.
“Unfortunately, this false report created unnecessary fear in the community and required the time and effort of numerous officers, investigators and support staff. While we regret this occurred, false reporting is rare. As always, VCU Police will continue to take all reports of crimes and threats seriously and will diligently investigate each one. We rely on each of our community members and thank you for helping us keep both of VCU’s campuses safe,” VCU police said in a release.
According to police, three armed robberies were reported on Friday within 30 minutes - just blocks apart. The robberies happened late Friday night on Floyd Avenue, Birch at West Franklin Streets and Morries at West Cary Streets.
In all the robberies, the victims told police three men pulled up in a dark gray Mazda sedan, flashed a gun and took the victims’ wallets, cell phones and car keys.
The first incident reportedly happened on the 1000 block of Floyd Avenue around 10:45 p.m. That specific block of Floyd Ave, near VCU’s campus, is often used by students, who said they sometimes feel safe.
“When the sun is up, yeah. But when it goes down, no," said VCU Senior Aiyanah Martin.
About 20 minutes later at 11:04 p.m., about a half-mile away, a second robbery was reported by West Franklin and Birch Street.
Police say in each incident, the suspects displayed a silver handgun.
“It’s a little bit more alarming now. I’ve never really felt at danger walking home, but now I have to be a bit more vigilant, especially since I walk home at night,” said Rastin Bagheri, who often walks home in that area past midnight.
But it didn’t stop there; at 11:11 p.m., police say a third robbery was reported by the corner of South Morris and West Cary Street.
“It’s kind of scary because I do walk on this street a lot and I live right down there," said another student, Morgan Bullock.
Richmond police are leading the investigation of Friday’s robberies.
NBC12 Safety Expert Mike Jones shared some tips, adding that these ‘hit-and-run’ robberies are on the rise. He says to just give the robbers them what they want.
He advises for people walking at night to try walking on the side opposite from the curb, and if you have to run, head opposite from where the car is facing, in zig-zags.
“They don’t want to risk chasing you because then they’re putting distance between them and the getaway car. They want a quick and easy robbery,” Jones said.
The men have not been identified or arrested in any of the robberies.
VCU Police add that they are looking into Monday’s incident and that it is still too early to say if they are connected with Friday’s robberies.
RPD is asking for anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.
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