Robbers targeted pedestrians early Sunday morning in a series of three strong-armed robberies in a student neighborhood.
Taking these and other incidents into account, the city of Madison is employing a greater police presence in the downtown and central districts.
“Based on the similarity in the suspect and vehicle description, it appears likely that the same suspects were involved in a total of three robberies overnight,” Madison Police Department Sgt. Ann Lehner said in a statement.
Four or five men targeted a group walking in the 10 block of North Mills Street at 1:40 a.m., according to police. One of the suspects took a 19-year-old woman’s phone, while another suspect punched her friend in the face.
Police reported a second incident at 4:45 a.m. on the 100 block of North Park Street between Spring Street and Fahrenbrook Court. One of the suspects threatened to shoot a 20-year-old woman if she did not give him her phone, according to Lehner.
At 4:47 a.m., three suspects approached two men on the 1300 block of Regent Street and stole one man’s wallet, according to police.
Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said it is not uncommon for crime to increase in this area during the spring.
“Usually [crime increases] because we have more people out and around, bar traffic picks up and more students are becoming more active,” Resnick said. “Criminals do see this as more of an opportunity.”
Resnick said the UW-Madison Police Department and the city of Madison are aware of the increase in crimes, and the city has authorized the use of a downtown safety plan earlier than in past years.
The Downtown Safety Initiative is a program which allocates money for a greater police presence in the downtown and central district areas.
UW-Madison junior Dan Shanahan, who lives in the College Court area, said five computers have been stolen from his house. He said other residents have been victims of robbery in the past year as well.
“I wish our landlord and neighborhood security would be able to guard the area a little better,” Shanahan said.