Off-campus holdups

Several incidents of students being held at gunpoint in the surrounding area have been reported to Temple Police.

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Temple student Alex Favin walks down French Street to his class, keeping an eye out on his surroundings (Kim Burnick/TTN).

Amy Lamberson can never forget the morning of Sept. 22, when two unknown men pressed a metal object against her head and demanded that she give them her bag

The incident occurred around 10:30 a.m. as the junior accounting major walked home to 16th and French streets from class.

“They were like, ‘Don’t look, don’t look,’” she said. “And I gave it to them, and they just ran off.”

An unidentified man witnessed the assailants rummaging through Lamberson’s bag, and her possessions were returned. Any security she felt walking home from campus did not return so easily.

“I didn’t walk by myself [after the incident]. I was completely freaked out,” Lamberson said. “I thought it was going to happen again.”

Lamberson filed reports with the Philadelphia Police Department and the police at Campus Safety Services. She said the Temple Police apologized for the incident and offered to escort her back and forth to campus.

During the month of September, three holdups similar to Lamberson’s were recorded in the daily crime reports compiled by Temple Police.

In the first incident, reported Sept. 13 at 3 p.m., a student and her parents alleged that an unknown man displayed a handgun and ordered them into a vehicle on the 2000 block of North 15th Street before fleeing west on Norris Street.

Another occurred at 2:30 a.m. Sept. 14, when a male student reported that he was approached by three unknown men on the 1400 block of Diamond Street. The men showed the student what appeared to be a handgun, punched him in the face and stole his cell phone.

Two weeks later, another student reported that an unknown man displayed a silver handgun and stole $55, a debit card and a wallet near 13th Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue around 4:25 a.m. before fleeing south on Park Avenue.

Despite these four incidents in which guns were allegedly brandished on and around campus, Campus Safety Services Executive Director Carl Bittenbender said gunpoint holdups are not a trend near Temple.

He said gunpoint holdups are not as common as the robberies that occur when distracted students have their cell phones or iPods stolen.

“Incidents [like this] are classified as robbery,” Bittenbender said. “[The offender will] grab the cell phone out of the hand and things like that.”

Bittenbender said students need to be more aware of their surroundings at all times in order to help prevent themselves from becoming victims.

He said talking on cell phones, listening to iPods and text messaging are hazardous distractions to do while walking.

“From all types of safety standpoints that’s a really bad habit,” he said.

A commonly reported crime on and around campus is students having their cell phones swiped by groups of juveniles, while walking and talking or walking and text messaging.

Bittenbender recommends students to walk in groups or pairs in well lighted areas around campus. He said this will increase safety for students, but not guarantee it.

“If you would happen to be confronted, comply,” he said. “But if somebody tries to force you into a vehicle or a home, do everything you can to resist [so you don’t] lose the advantage of being in public.”

He said that students should avoid carrying large sums of money and extra credit cards and unnecessary important forms of identification while on campus.

“That’s not just for crime,” he said. “We have so many students who just lose belongings.”

Lamberson said she is slowly starting to feel safe around campus again.

“I was so scared because it happened, but now I’m getting more used to walking by myself again,” she said. “But I definitely always think about it.”

Morgan Zalot can be reached at

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