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Updated: Duke Police doubles Central Campus security after armed robbery

<p>The third armed robbery on Central Campus in less than seven months occurred near the 1901 Erwin Road apartments Wednesday morning.</p>

The third armed robbery on Central Campus in less than seven months occurred near the 1901 Erwin Road apartments Wednesday morning.

Duke University Police Department is doubling the number of police security officers on Central Campus after an armed robbery early Wednesday morning.

A female student was the victim of the robbery, Keith Lawrence, executive director of news and communications, wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon. The suspects had a handgun, and according to a DukeAlert were seen leaving the area in an SUV on Erwin Road, traveling toward Ninth Street. Lawrence noted that the University and Duke University Police Department are not releasing what might have been taken at this time, and that the University is working with local authorities on the case. 

In response to the robbery, the number of security personnel on Central will be visibly increased, wrote Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, in an email to students Wednesday evening.

"Events like these, while rare at Duke, contribute to a sense of anxiety on campus," Moneta noted.

Moneta explained that the number of police officers and security guards patrolling Central Campus will be doubled effective immediately.

A DukeAlert was sent to students, faculty and staff detailing the robbery that was reported at approximately 12:03 a.m. Wednesday morning. The alert—which was sent at approximately 1 a.m.—explained that the robbery was reported near the 1901 Erwin Road apartments on the University's Central Campus, and that two suspects were involved.

Descriptions of the suspects provided in the release were limited—they were described as "dark complexion males, in their 20s, both about six-feet tall." The only clothing description was that one was wearing a dark-colored t-shirt, and the other was wearing dark sweat pants.

The DukeAlert that was sent out was the third in less than six weeks. On July 24, an armed robbery was reported near the 301 Swift Ave. apartments and on Aug. 20, it was reported that DUPD was investigating a sexual assault that occurred in a taxi on Science Drive on West Campus. A man was arrested for second-degree sexual assault the day after the DukeAlert detailing the sexual assault, which took place after a student left Shooters II.

Wednesday morning's armed robbery was the third to occur on Central Campus since February. Before February's armed robbery, the University had not had an on-campus armed robbery in more than a year.

Lawrence explained that at this time, there appear to be no connections between Wednesday's robbery and the one that occurred in July. He also noted that student safety has been and will continue to be a priority on Central Campus.

"Over the past several years, we have significantly increased staffing on Central; have installed more fencing there; improved lighting and installed new lights; installed new locks in all units; and trees and shrubs were and continue to be trimmed to improve sight lines," Lawrence wrote. "Anytime we have an incident we review every aspect of our operation to see if there are other things that we can do."

Janine Weaver-Douglas, associate dean for Central Campus, wrote in an email to Central Campus residents Wednesday afternoon that an audit of lighting on Central Campus has recently been completed and that extra security patrols have been added on Central. She also noted that residents on Central can request a Walking Escort to accompany them back to their residence if they feel unsafe at night or by themselves. 

Several Central Campus residents noted that security has been a concern for them, especially at night.

"I think these things have been happening more recently than they have in the past," said Jack Gillette, a junior. "I can't say I'm really concerned about my security but I do have to think twice when I'm out late at night on Central."

Others noted that it may be hard to avoid some robberies at night in a city, and that Duke students may be particularly targeted.

"I'm from Durham and I've lived here my whole life," said Lucy Wooldridge, a sophomore. "In general, I get frustrated with people saying Durham is a sketchy place but I think there is a big problem with Duke students being targeted. I wish there was a good way to improve safety on campus without demonizing the Durham community."

Adam Beyer and Claire Ballentine contributed reporting. 

Update: This article was updated to include information from Moneta, Janine Weaver-Douglas and reaction from students. Check back with The Chronicle for updates on this developing story.

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