DePaul president urges students to take ‘extra steps’ in wake of latest robberies on campus

CHICAGO — For the second time this month, DePaul University President Robert Manuel found himself penning a letter to his community about robberies on the school’s Lincoln Park campus.

At least four students were targeted in two separate robberies, one late Saturday and another early Sunday. Exactly how many people were victimized is unclear, as Chicago police and the school have released slightly different accounts of what happened.

“We are taking action at DePaul and with the City of Chicago to address ongoing challenges the city is facing with armed robberies,” Manuel wrote, confirming that one student was pistol-whipped.

“Chicago continues to grapple with criminal activity, including robberies throughout the city,” he continued. “Public Safety remains on heightened alert and is actively working with the Chicago Police Department to address these most recent incidents on campus.”

“We urge students to take extra steps to stay aware of your surroundings,” the note said. Manuel encouraged students to take advantage of the school’s public safety resources, particularly during evening hours. He said the local police commander told a recent school safety summit that most robberies in Chicago occur between midnight and 4 a.m.

The school’s staff is working with last night’s victims to “make sure they are receiving care and support,” Manuel stated.

Here is Manuel’s full letter, which was also signed by the school’s Vice President for Student Affairs, Eugene Zdziarski, and Public Safety Director Robert Wachowski:

Robberies last night on campus

​Last night and early this morning, the university issued public safety alerts to report that two robberies and a battery had occurred on our Lincoln Park Campus between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Unfortunately, these crimes involved our DePaul students. We are taking action at DePaul and with the City of Chicago to address ongoing challenges the city is facing with armed robberies. Last night and throughout the week, the city has experienced a spike in robbery crime sprees targeting individuals for their belongings. 

As reported in the public safety alerts, two incidents happened at separate locations on our Lincoln Park Campus: the quad near Belden and Seminary, and at the intersection of Belden and Racine. In both cases, the offenders approached our students and demanded their belongings. In one incident, an offender displayed a weapon and struck a student with it. Public Safety responded immediately, and university staff are working with the students involved to make sure they are receiving care and support.

As immediate action steps: 

  • DePaul will increase its public safety presence on both campuses with additional security officers.  
  • The Chicago Police Department is increasing patrols around campus. 
  • We continue to engage with the City of Chicago — including, the mayor, police commander and elected officials — to advocate for additional resources to keep our community safe.

Chicago continues to grapple with criminal activity, including robberies throughout the city. Public Safety remains on heightened alert and is actively working with the Chicago Police Department to address these most recent incidents on campus. We are grateful for the strong relationship we have with the police and our elected officials, and we will continue to proactively work with them.  

In light of the uptick the city is experiencing with robberies, we urge students to take extra steps to stay aware of your surroundings. As the local commander shared during our recent Safety Summit, the majority of robberies citywide are occurring between midnight and 4 a.m. Especially during evening hours, students are encouraged to access DePaul’s safety resources. 

The safety escort service is available on the Lincoln Park Campus from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., seven days a week. If you are out after dark, using this service is the best way to stay safe.

  • During the week, the inter-campus shuttle is available between the Lincoln Park and Loop campuses from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday. 
  • To travel to residential destinations just outside the boundaries of Lincoln Park, use the Vinnie Van service
  • Note the location of phones and the blue emergency call boxes on campus, and don’t ever be afraid to use them. 
  • Stay alert, trust your instincts, and travel in groups after dark.
  • Report any criminal activity or suspicious individuals to Public Safety at 773-325-7777 (Lincoln Park) or 312-362-8400 (Loop). 
  • For more resources and tips, please visit the Public Safety website

Keeping our university community safe is a top priority, and please know we take incidents like this extremely seriously.

Please continue to take care of yourself and take care of each other. Thank you for everything you do to Take Care DePaul.

Manuel also wrote a letter to the school’s community on September 9 acknowledging the “sad reality” of Chicago’s crime problem after another robbery spree rolled through campus.

The latest robberies began around 10:10 p.m. Saturday in the school’s quad on the 2300 block of North Seminary. Chicago police said an 18-year-old woman, an 18-year-old man, and a 16-year-old girl were robbed by two men who approached them. One robber demanded property from the older victims while another battered and robbed the 16-year-old, CPD said.

Both robbers fled in a silver sedan, a Chicago police spokesperson said.

The school’s initial email to students about the incident said several people were sitting on the hill in the quad when two men demanded phones from two victims.

Later, at 2:05 a.m., two 19-year-old women were robbed at gunpoint in the 2200 block of North Racine, according to CPD. Police said the women were walking when four men dressed in black clothing exited a vehicle and demanded their property while displaying a handgun.

The gunman struck one of the women in the forehead with his firearm after she initially refused to cooperate, according to police. The injured woman was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center for treatment.

Again, DePaul provided a slightly different account of the incident in an email to its community. It said three students were robbed during the second incident, and one, a female, was struck in the face with a gun. The school said four offenders wearing dark clothing, hoodies, and masks jumped out of a Toyota Prime to rob the victims of wallets, phones, and purses on the corner of Racine and Belden.

Last Sunday, two DePaul students were maced and robbed in the 1200 block of West Belden. The victims, who are a couple, were on the sidewalk when five men pulled up in a gray SUV. According to the spokesperson, the men grabbed the woman’s property and then pepper-sprayed both victims when the boyfriend intervened.

After punching the boyfriend, the group returned to the car and fled.

On Saturday, September 9, three robberies were reported in under 30 minutes on or near the school’s campus.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com