Local armed robberies halt over holidays

Rodney Scott, 35, is apprehended in the parking lot of McDonalds on Sixth Street in connection with a robbery on Dec. 1. A victim said Scott demanded money in the drive thru of Taco Bell.
Chris Derrett | Editor in Chief

By Linda Wilkins
Staff Writer

The series of robberies that occurred in the area west of Baylor campus last semester came to a stand still over the holiday season, while many students and faculty were on their breaks.

Baylor Police Chief Jim Doak called the holiday break “one of the quietest” that Baylor has seen in a long time.

The nine robberies that occurred before the break are still active cases for the Waco Police Department. Currently, there are no suspects and the robberies may or may not have been committed by the same people. The descriptions of the suspects in some of the past robberies have usually been of younger black males, but not all of these descriptions are definite. In most of the robberies, pieces of personal property such as money, cellphones and purses were stolen.

There have been several arrests made based on the time frame that the robberies occurred, according to Sergeant W. Patrick Swanton with the Waco PD, but there is nothing final about the cases. While none of the suspects arrested have been proven to be the culprit as of yet, Swanton said that efforts are being made to stop the robberies from occurring in that area around Baylor campus.

These efforts include setting up new surveillance video cameras in the areas around where the robberies occurred. In addition, the Waco police have begun using a highly marked and highly visible surveillance vehicle that has 360-degree viewing cameras. The vehicle is a converted SWAT armored personal carrier. With its solar powered technology, it was used in barricades and rescue operations and has since been used to monitor high crime areas around the city of Waco. The vehicle is several years old, but the department was able to fix it up and use it effectively.

The Baylor police have increased their presence on the west side of campus and Doak believes that this action has helped with slowing down these crimes. He explained that the Baylor police have helped become extra eyes for the Waco police. Swanton agreed.

“The most important thing is that the Baylor police and the Waco police continue to work together and keep up the cooperation,” he said.

For anyone who may be walking alone in the affected area, or any other for area that matter, Swanton stressed the necessity of being mindful, being aware of their surroundings and using caution. Swanton explained that it is always safer to travel in groups, but if that is not possible, then make sure to have a cell phone ready to use in case something happens and assistance is needed. He insisted that looking like a target is a key safety issue. An important way to avoid this is by trying to keep from flashing money where other people can see it or where it is kept. He also mentioned that it is safer to carry smaller purses because they attract less attention.

“Walk with a purpose and be aware of your personal space,” Swanton said. “If anyone even looks like they might approach you, yell ‘stop’ and try to attract attention from other people.”

If anything seems suspicious, Swanton said that it is safer to go ahead and call the police, even if nothing has actually happened. He said that the most important way of keeping people safe is to look out for each other and simply be aware.

For more information about safety measures, consult the Baylor Police Department website and the safety guidelines found there. The phone number for the Baylor Police Department is (254) 710-2222.

The Baylor Police Department also keeps a crime log available for public viewing.