Chelsea Langevin – Senior reporter. After a McMinnville community member was robbed at knifepoint Oct. 30 near the Linfield campus, Robert Cepeda, director of Linfield College Community Public Safety & Security Department, has begun urging Linfield students to be more observant of their surroundings.
The crime took place at approximately 1 a.m. at the intersection of Claremont Street and Rose Drive, near Alf’s Restaurant, Sergeant Rhonda Sandoval of the McMinnville Police Department said.
One of the two suspects frightened the victim by showing a knife and asking for his money.
After handing over the small amount of cash he was carrying, the victim escaped unharmed, Sandoval said. However, he was only able to provide vague descriptions of the two prowlers, identifying them as Hispanic males, Cepeda said.
Despite the robbery’s proximity to Linfield, Cepeda said he advises that we be proactive rather than reactive to this crime.
“Robberies are a common occurrence in our nation: The premise of preventing crime is that you have to recognize it will happen and take some action to prevent it,” Cepeda said.
Although the robbery took place off campus, Linfield’s campus security responded immediately because the victim ran to the nearest campus blue-light phone to report the case.
Cepeda describes this robbery as one of opportunity, which means the only way to prevent this type of crime is to reduce or eliminate the robber’s chance to harm you.
“You can take away their opportunity, but you can’t take away their desire to do it,” he said.
Presenting a possibility to a robber or criminal means displaying a weakness — whether its physical or mental, Cepeda said. For example, a student walking home with books in his or her hands has fewer defenses; the same goes for a student walking around intoxicated at night.
Cepeda said this crime was statistically rare in that it involved a weapon, as generally there is a higher rate of crime involving physical violence.
Because most crimes occur between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m., students should always bring a friend if they have to travel at night, Cepeda said. More importantly, students should learn to have a 360-degree spatial awareness, which involves knowing the details of your surroundings.
“We as a community need to be looking for suspicious behavior,” he said.
Cepeda said it is crucial to be observent in the event of a robbery. One should always pay attention to crminal’s identifiers, such as piercings and tattoos, but always focus on his or her shoes. He said most criminals tend to throw away their clothes as evidence, but they do not think about removing their shoes.
“You need to walk and drive like an airline pilot,” he said.
In doing so, you are scanning your environment from left to right and focusing on the horizon, or your guide to your destination.
“If someone is involved in a robbery incident, I would recommend that they be as good a witness as possible and that they notify the police as soon as possible,” she said.
Cepeda said that it is good to know your surroundings so that you could escape to the nearest 24-hour store, such as 7-11.
With only 1 to 10 percent of the entire population committing these crimes of opportunity, both Sandoval and Cepeda believe McMinnville and the Linfield community are at a low risk for danger.
“I do not think robbery is a growing problem in McMinnville,” Sandoval said. “Although McMinnville is a relatively small town, we are going to get our share, so to speak, of various types of 1crime. A way to minimize this type of crime is for people to be aware of their surroundings and to have a plan in mind as to what they would do if they feel someone is following them or is making them nervous or uneasy.”
Cepeda said he thinks Linfield is a relatingly safe place.
“In the six months I’ve been here, I’ve gathered that Linfield is a really quiet and safe community,” Cepeda said.