DAVIS (CBS13) — A string of thefts hit UC Davis with thieves literally ripping laptops and electronics out of people’s hands. Students are on high alert after a violent robbery Thursday morning. But the victims were not students, they were two CBS13 employees.
“This one, I think, is a reminder that crime does lurk,” said Joe Farrow, Chief of UC Davis Police Department. “There will be people who take advantage of situations and there will be people that will, quite frankly, steal from you if given the opportunity.”
It started off as a typical morning for our CBS reporter/photographer team. An early morning live shot on a typically safe UC Davis corner. But out of nowhere, a car pulled up, a guy got out wearing surgical gloves, grabbed our camera, and then knocked over our photographer with the getaway car. It’s one of several crimes UC Davis Campus police are trying to crack.
“I feel like I always have to watch my back,” said Chelsea Blankenship, a UC Davis senior. “I’m very worried all the time.”
The campus hosts 38,000 students on more than 5,000 acres of green quads and corridors. And all of them buzzing about the same thing: recent crime plaguing their campus.
Within the last month, UC Davis has had an armed robbery, four dormitory burglaries, $16,000 in university laptops stolen and several student laptops taken from coffee shops in broad daylight.
“They’re crimes of opportunity,” Farrow said. “People know what they’re looking for. They’re looking for the perfect opportunity. I think we’re just like any other campus or any other place where you have a strong gathering of people, there are people who will do you harm and try to steal your property.”
The armed robbery happened 4 o’clock Sunday morning in Lot 47. Students were returning to their cars after a night out. One suspect approached them, said he had a gun and demanded their property. Along with another suspect, they took the students’ purses, cell phones, wallets, and cash. Three of the first year students involved had only been on campus for a week. The two suspects got away by car.
“It’s kind of shocking they were armed with a gun!” said Daniel Aguirre, a UC Davis student. “Don’t be here late at night. Don’t walk alone!”
Davis Police Department is investigating a string of coffee shop thefts that took place over the last few weeks just off campus. The M.O. was the same: the suspects walked inside, used the restroom, grabbed laptops and ran.
“It’s escalated in the very short period of time that I got to know this campus,” Blankenship said.
Farrow told CBS13 it’s unclear which events are connected. And as far as who’s responsible?
“I don’t believe it’s coming from our students,” he said.
And with an open campus, he believes the perpetrators could be coming from anywhere.
“Watch out for yourself, watch out for your surroundings, take care of your partners, call us if you see things that look suspicious,” Farrow warned.
Farrow and the university’s chancellor sent out a letter to students and staff warning them to stay vigilant.
The CBS employees involved were shaken Thursday morning but now doing fine.