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Number of DukeALERTS remains constant for 2018-19, yet two crimes still unsolved

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Three DukeALERTS for crimes were issued this academic year, with one alert coming from two locations on Campus Drive.

The number of DukeALERTS issued from June 2018 to 2019 stayed the same as the prior year.

Each year saw three crime-related DukeALERTS, and two of those issued this year are still open. The number stayed well below the 10 DukeALERTS issued two years ago. DukeALERTS are sent at the discretion of the University in emergency situations, and are not issued for all on-campus crimes. 

The most common on-campus crime continues to be larceny involving stolen phones or laptops, wrote Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration, in an email. Violent crimes tend to be rare, as most theft involves unattended possessions.

However, Duke did report two sexual assaults for criminal investigation last year, similar to numbers in previous years. Two rape cases were reported to the Duke University Police Department for investigation in 2017, out of 19 total reports, according to Duke's 2018 Annual Clery Security Report.

Cavanaugh wrote that DUPD's focus over the next year will be on increased visibility around campus. DUPD has taken steps to improve visibility for the past several years, increasing security and police staffing.

"Recent enhancements to security include the addition of security cameras on campus to better monitor events and activities, and tools such as the LiveSafe mobile app, which allows people to submit security tips to Duke Police," Cavanaugh told The Chronicle in September.

The Chronicle revisits the three incidents that triggered this year’s crime-related DukeALERTS. 

Sept. 17, 2018

An armed robbery attempt was reported in the Wannamaker fire lane, which runs between Wannamaker Dorm and Keohane 4B, off Towerview Road. One of the two suspects was armed with a handgun. The alert did not specify if the victim was a student or not. The DukeALERT was issued at 11:38 p.m after the crime occurred at approximately 10:56 p.m.

A second robbery involving a car stolen at gunpoint was reported off campus on the same night, less than a mile from the Wannamaker incident. DUPD and the Durham Police Department looked for connections between the two cases, but no charges were filed in either incident. Both cases are still open.

Sept. 18, 2018

Twenty-four hours after the first DukeALERT of the academic year, two female Duke students reported being touched inappropriately by a man on Campus Drive around 9 p.m. The women were approached individually by a suspect wearing an orange shirt, according to the DukeALERT, which was issued at 10:59 p.m.

A warrant was issued Sept. 21 after investigators identified the suspect from security footage. The Durham County Sheriff's Office then arrested 21-year-old Gustavo Antonio Velasquez Silva, who was charged with two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery and released on $6,000 bond.

Dec. 13, 2018

A female Duke student reported being raped in a Central Campus common room on Pace Street. The student was sleeping between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. when she was awakened by a suspect and “forced to have sex,” the alert said. The DukeALERT was issued at 5:21 a.m. 

Duke increased security personnel and changed access codes on Central Campus in response to the incident, but declined to comment about whether the suspect was caught on security footage or affiliated with Duke. The case is still open, Cavanaugh wrote.

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