AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is investigating after two suspects, believed to be targeting women walking alone at night, are accused of four aggravated robberies.
Of those, three of them are believed to involve University of Texas students.
The first happened at 11:05 p.m., Monday at 1300 Crossing Place. The area is just east of South Pleasant Valley Road in between East Riverside Drive and East Cesar Chavez Street.
Two others happened Tuesday, one just before 1 a.m. at 25th and Leon Street and the other around 2:50 a.m. at 700 West 24th Street — both in the West Campus area.
The fourth happened in the 10200 block Stonelake Boulevard near U.S. Highway 183 and West Braker Lane.
The suspects are described as two Black men in a dark colored sedan. APD said the men were armed with weapons. They appear to be crimes of opportunity.
Students on campus say they received a text alert Wednesday morning. It was a scary message, but not especially surprising to some upperclassmen.
“Being on West Campus, you have to be careful, especially if you are a woman and walking by yourself at night,” said Sofia Grieco, a junior at UT.
The latest news had several women brainstorming ways they can protect themselves if an attacker confronted them.
“I carry around pepper spray just in case,” said Kira Juranek, a junior.
“We always make sure that we pick each other up if we need a ride,” Grieco chimed in.
“I know how to fight so I’m protective of myself, I don’t need anyone to handle for me,” UT freshman Serena Anwar said.
The University of Texas Police Department reminded students to not walk alone and for students to call 911 anytime they feel unsafe.
This area of West Campus is actually jurisdiction belonging to the Austin Police Department. Back in August, APD told KXAN that theft, burglaries, aggravated assaults and robberies were all higher than the year before.
UTPD Chief David Carter said he plans to help enforce a greater police presence in the area. UTPD will send more officers to patrol nearby once the cadet classes resume—the UT System Police Academy has been suspended due to concerns with COVID-19.
The UT Board of Regents have approved $8 million worth of improvements to the area. That includes a high-tech “Halo” camera system, similar to surveillance APD uses in its downtown sector.
Chief Carter said this can work in conjunction with the current UT surveillance on campus and can be paired with other businesses in the area for enhanced security. The chief hopes changes like these will bring comfort to people living right off the UT campus.
“UTPD will support you in whatever way that we possibly can,” Chief Carter said.
Anyone with information is asked to call APD at 311 or Crime Stoppers at 1(800) 893-8477.