Students cautious after Common robberies

by Beacon Staff • April 5, 2006

Two recent daytime robberies at the Boston Common Garage have some in the Emerson community concerned for their safety. According to the Boston Police Department's (BPD) robbery bulletin, "junkies" looking for drugs may have carried out these crimes, evidencing the substance abuse problems in the Common that The Beacon and other area publications have reported since September.

The robberies, which occurred on March 16 and March 21, involved two women not affiliated with Emerson College, both of whom were entering or leaving the garage, according to a March 23 e-mail sent out by David Rosen, vice president of public affairs.

Both incidents occurred during the day, at 10:40 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. respectively, though it has not been determined if these muggings were related, according to the e-mail.

The perpetrators, who were unarmed, have not yet been arrested, according to Emerson College Police Department Lieutenant Scott Bornstein. Bornstein said he has received little information about the crimes from the BPD but does know that neither woman was seriously injured.

BPD Spokesman Michael McCarthy said he couldn't comment on the case, since it is active. He did say there have been no new leads.

The crimes have been troubling to some members of the Athletic Department, as the vans that athletes use for practice and game transportation are parked in the garage.

Most in-season athletes are in the garage at least twice a day, and practices often occur in the evening, according to several athletes. Jodie Jordan, a member of the girl's softball team, said that she is in the garage five or six days a week.

"In the winter we have practice at 10 at night, so I'm in the garage at midnight after practice is over," the junior writing, literature and publishing major (WLP) said.

Jordan said the team always goes into the garage together. After the muggings, she said she will be even more careful.

"I feel more nervous when I'm down there now," she said because of the muggings. "I told the girls again that they can't go down there alone."

Many faculty members, like organizational and political communication department professor Cathryn Edelstein, also use the garage regularly.

Edelstein said she uses the garage at least three times a week, and feels comfortable doing so.

"I have never felt unsafe in the garage," Edelstein said. "However, I am from this area and I am always aware when I'm in the garage. You must be aware."

Jordan said one of the other team members noticed increased security in the garage in recent weeks.

"Someone told me they saw security on every level of the garage now, but I don't know if they're there 24 hours a day," she said.

The increased security includes uniformed security guards at most entrances to the garage in Boston Common.

A security officer stationed at the garage entrance closest to the intersection of Charles and Beacon streets confirmed that he was sent there in response to the muggings.

Kevin Macguire, chief of public safety for the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, which runs the garage, said two guards have been patrolling the area seven days a week since March 16.

The guards, who are employed by Allied Security, will stay indefinitely, Macguire said.

Bornstein said that people have to be aware of their surroundings in the Common. The tips given at freshman orientation are what he said students should follow to be safe.

"Be out of the Common by dark," Bornstein said. "Don't walk alone."

Catie McDonough, who plays softball, said she agrees that students should be careful.

"I don't want to see this happen to a student athlete or anyone else, for that matter," said McDonough, a freshman broadcast journalism major who said she uses the garage five to six times each week. "Students have to be street smart in this city."