The Butler University Police Department has its own end-of-the-semester worries.
An unusually high number of reported crimes in the past two weeks left police with several open investigations, including one of an armed robbery in a student’s off-campus home.
Two arrests made by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department resulted in the recovery of stolen property, including a laptop and cell phone, taken from the student’s home on Rookwood Avenue last Wednesday.
Chief of Staff and Executive Director of Public Safety Ben Hunter said those two individuals face charges of fleeing police and possession of stolen goods. They have not been connected to the April 18 armed robbery in the 4600 block of Rookwood. Hunter said they may be responsible or able to provide a lead in the case.
The victim, a male student, told BUPD he was asleep when he heard someone enter the home. The student said a man dressed in all black, wearing a mask and carrying a gun, ordered him to leave the house, and the student complied.
Police are still searching for the student’s stolen car.
“These are things that keep me up at night,” Hunter said. “It’s very disconcerting. This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood or on campus.”
Two undercover IMPD officers made the arrests around noon after the robbery occurred around 1:15 a.m. The student was not harmed.
“We are in a safe neighborhood,” Hunter said. “The campus is safe. It’s an unfortunate incident that we’re not immune to.”
Jackie Wurzer, a senior dance pedagogy major who lives on 44th Street, said she probably would not know how to react if the same thing happened to her.
“I thought (the armed robbery) was pretty terrifying,” Wurzer said. “It made me not want to stay alone.”
Hunter said last week’s victim reacted in exactly the right way.
“You don’t know the mindset, so not challenging them, not fighting them and just getting out and getting away,” Hunter said. “You’re at the mercy of someone holding a gun to you. If you have the opportunity to flee and do it safely, that’s the preferred method.”
Hunter said even if intruders have yet to notice someone, that person should still try to escape through a window or door, even if it makes a bit of noise.
“Hopefully by the time they see you, you’re 150 feet away,” Hunter said.
BUPD is also continuing to investigate an attempted strong-armed robbery reported April 14 by an Indiana University medical student in the same area of Rookwood Avenue.
The man told BUPD that another man in a red sweater confronted him in an alley and demanded money. The two exchanged punches before the IU student was able to getaway unscathed.
Hunter said police don’t know if the two incidents near Rookwood are related.
A strong-armed robbery, Hunter said, is a robbery of a person in which physical action may be taken, but no weapon is used or implied. BUPD rarely deals with this type of incident, Hunter said.
Taylor Clark, a freshman economics and finance major, said the recent cases won’t change his plan to live off campus as a senior.
“It’s obviously a concern,” Clark said, “but it’s not something I’m freaking out about. That’s part of life.”
Thefts at HRC
Elsewhere, BUPD issued a campus-wide warning Friday following seven reported thefts in 10 weeks at the Health and Recreation Complex.
Hunter said the thefts averaged around $30 apiece in value and are Class D felonies. They resulted from HRC patrons leaving belongings in open cubbyholes or unlocked lockers.
“It’s always been about finding money,” Scott Peden, director of recreation, said. “I’m disappointed. Because the thefts are happening past the check-in point, we know it’s one of ours.”
Peden said users should be aware the HRC offers lockers for free and that valuables left out in the open are susceptible to theft.
“People don’t think it will happen until it happens to them,” Peden said. “We’re doing what we can, I’m sure BUPD’s doing what they can, and hopefully it stops as soon as possible.”
Matt Roth, a junior pharmacy major and daily visitor to the HRC, said IDs, wallets, keys, phones and clothes are constantly left unattended on benches, in cubbies or in the locker room.
“It doesn’t surprise me that once in a while they get picked up,” Roth said. “I’m just shocked it doesn’t happen more often.”
Roth said when people leave belongings out of their line of sight—as he notices they do—thefts happen easily.
“It’s all about confidence,” Roth said. “If you just walk up to something and pick it up like it’s yours, people will think it’s yours.”
Roth takes a lock from the front desk and said he has never had a problem.
Greek House Crimes
Other items on BUPD’s recent docket included two campus disturbances involving, respectively, a stun gun and a fight at a sorority house.
On April 14, a woman, who was not a Butler student but was with a few, sparked a stun gun while walking away from the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house, where she had been turned away.
Hunter said the case likely will be presented to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, which could charge the woman with intimidation.
Johnny Radtke, a freshman exploratory business and Spanish major, saw the woman out on the street. Radtke said he saw her lurch at a group of students with the stun gun before the woman sparked the gun again when she passed Radtke and his friends. The woman was walking with two men and two women, Radtke said, who were laughing at her antics.
“I don’t know why somebody just had that or why they would bring it out,” Radtke said. “It’s kind of scary if she actually would do it to somebody.”
Hunter said only once before in his career in law enforcement had he seen a civilian with a stun gun. Possession of such a weapon violates Butler policy, Hunter said.
In an April 15 incident at the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority house, a woman was accused of battery with serious bodily injury after grabbing the throat and choking another woman during a fight. Hunter said neither student was harmed and that student affairs is likely to consider discipline, with charges likely not filed.
Increase in Activity ‘Not Unusual’
Hunter said all of these incidents taken together represent an abnormal wave of cases.
“It’s not unusual to see a flurry of activity,” Hunter said. “The only thing that is bothersome about this flurry of activity is that there was a brazen armed robbery.”
Hunter said he’d simply be guessing if he saw a trend in the recent spree.
“These have been unseasonably warm temperatures,” Hunter said. “Weather does affect patterns of crime, no doubt. I’m not saying that’s what happened here.”