Crime on campus raises security concerns

Authorities have confirmed that two victims were robbed on campus at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), prompting some students to call for security measures to be heightened.

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The Jan. 25 robbery at the Humanities-Wing patio comes after an armed robbery that occurred in the outside vicinity of the campus in 2009, and a suspicious male seeking chemicals on campus in 2010.

At around 5 p.m. on Jan. 25, two male suspects approached two students in the Humanities-Wing patio and assaulted them. They were robbed of their cellular phones and wallets. The suspects then fled the scene in an unknown direction and are still at large. The students were not seriously injured in the attack. Investigations are ongoing.

“It’s always difficult to put in place strategies that will prevent someone form doing something at random.”

– Robert Messacar

Robert Messacar, Manager of Community Police services at UTSC said the incident was an isolated one and not premeditated.

“You’ll find that these are more spontaneous acts,” he said.

Messacar said the motivation for this latest incident does not underscore a trend of targeting students and the institution, and highlighted that any educational institution could just as easily have been targeted.

“It’s always difficult to put in place strategies that will prevent someone form doing something at random,” he said. “The bottom line is the campus is a very safe place but these incidents do highlight the fact that we’re not immune to what goes on in the rest of the world.”

On Oct. 14, 2009, a student was robbed of his chain and money after two male suspects held him at gunpoint on Military Trail and Morningside Avenue at around 2 p.m.

A year later, on Nov. 24, a suspicious male was reported demanding a chemical substance from another man in the Science Research Building, who denied the request.

The latest victim was treated by EMRG at UTSC (Emergency Medical Response Group) staff after campus police had cleared the scene but David Chung, a third-year paramedic student and Executive Director of EMRG said he was “disappointed” at the latest incident happening on campus.

He said campus police is “already pretty beefed up” but added the installation of security cameras could help towards identifying suspects.

Sohaib Mohammad, a fourth-year neuroscience and philosophy major, was studying in the H-Wing at the time of the incident when campus police came to inquire about the incident. Mohammad told them he was unaware of what had happened but is perplexed at how the suspects were not seen.

“It’s ridiculous that no one saw anything,” he said.

Mohammad added that although campus police regularly check student cards during exam periods, students who may have forgotten their student cards might become indiscernible to campus police from people who frequent the campus from outside and be mistakenly asked to leave.

“I think it’s counterproductive… they should have some sort of computerized system to check you even if you don’t have your card,” he said.