Campus stores face rash of robberies;

Sarah McKenzie

For someone with Ali Sullivan’s experience, handling a robber seems as blasÇ as a turkey sub on white.
Sullivan, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts, has been held up twice in the past year while working at Blimpie Subs & Salads in Stadium Village.
“The first time was a lot worse,” Sullivan said. “I had a lot of butterflies in my stomach.”
But last Wednesday when a man came into the sub shop demanding money, Sullivan said she calmly handed over $320 in cash and called the police.
Sullivan is not alone; in the past month, an increasing number of campus parking attendants and store clerks in Dinkytown have fallen victim to armed robberies, according to University Police Sergeant Joe May.
The recent rash of robberies is troublesome for University Police; May said the rate of apprehension is generally not very good.
“Time is usually the big issue,” May said. “Robberies usually only last three to four minutes.”
But May said individuals who rob restaurants and stores for petty cash usually strike again and again, making a successful arrest more likely.
“These are desperate acts committed by desperate people,” May said. “They will eventually get caught.”
The rise in heists is unusual and may be a result of new residents in the area finding ways to gain quick cash, May said.
He added that 100 percent cooperation is the key to safely surviving an armed robbery; the worst thing to do in that situation is to play the hero.
While Sullivan coolly handled her situation Wednesday, she expressed her frustration with the lack of response when calling 911.
“I called them last year when I saw a man that had previously robbed us,” Sullivan said. “They told me they were too busy.”
Nick Wahi, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts, shares Sullivan’s sentiments.
He didn’t call 911 right away when someone held him up while working as an attendant in a campus parking lot last December. First he contacted the University parking office.
The robbery occurred two hours before his final exam in German, but he said he managed to take it all in stride.
“I never felt physically threatened,” Wahi said. “We sort of had this friendly encounter.”
The robber approached Wahi in a very congenial manner and had initially inquired about a job. So Wahi invited him into the attendant’s booth to get out of the cold while he wrote down some information.
Once Wahi turned his back, the man demanded money but told him not to take it personally. He got away with $200.
The robber threatened that he had a gun, but Wahi said it looked plastic when he glanced at it out of the corner of his eye.
“I’ve been through a lot worse,” Wahi said. “This guy was as courteous as could be.”
Despite the distressing circumstances, Wahi said he still managed to ace his German final that day.
May warned students that the culprits will not always be so polite. The individuals who commit these crimes are often looking to satisfy a drug craving, he said.
“These people are very impulsive,” May said. “Therein lies the danger.”