UTPD warns students to be aware of potential robberies, limit earbud use

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Students walk around campus every day with wires coming out of their ears, holding an iPhone or iPod as they walk to class. But, after two unrelated robberies near campus this past weekend, this scene may not be as common.

In a Tuesday Campus Watch report, William Pieper, UTPD officer and crime prevention specialist, urged students to be aware of sounds they hear while walking around campus and to wear only one earbud while listening to music. 

“You can’t hear [certain] sounds if you’re wearing both ear buds — that’s why we call earphones ‘mugger magnets,’” Pieper said in the report. “Let one ear bud dangle; you will be much safer that way.”

According to the report, one of the robberies happened near Fifth and Colorado streets. A pedestrian was approached from behind by a subject who grabbed the victim’s wallet and ran away.

In the other robbery, a UT student was walking near his apartment in West Campus when he was approached by a subject who displayed a weapon and demanded money. The report said the suspect then fled the area in a gold-colored Nissan Altima with silver rims in the shape of a five-pointed star.

The report recommended students take certain precautions to be aware of their surroundings, such as not looking at their phones while walking and looking directly at people when they pass.

“Don’t be looking at your cell phone screen or book while you are walking,” the report said. “Robbers love to attack those that do not see them coming.”

History sophomore Brianna Wilcox said she does not think earbuds impair her ability to be aware of surroundings as she walks to class.

“I turn the volume down low, so I’m pretty aware of what’s going on,” Wilcox said. “I don’t think there’s really that much of a risk that you’re going to be robbed or something.”

If students do fall victim to a robbery, they should let the robber have their property without resisting and then make a mental description of the person and report it to the police, the report said. 

The Annual Security Report shows one robbery occurred on adjacent public property to the University last year.