Three female Northwestern University students were victims of an armed robbery early today near the school’s Evanston campus.

The students told police they were walking northbound in the 2000 block of Pratt Court in the middle of the street about 1:10 a.m. when two men approached them, one walking on the west sidewalk, the other on the east side.

The suspects ordered the students to stop. One man displayed a silver handgun and demanded their valuables. The suspect with the handgun then snatched the purse of one of the victims and also took her cell phone. The suspects then took the purses of the other two victims before fleeing westbound on Foster Street towards Ridge Avenue.

The three students were not injured.

The victims described the suspect with the handgun as a heavy set, African American man in his late 20s, between 5-feet 3-inches and 5-feet 6-inches tall, and wearing all black clothing. A detailed description of the second offender could not be obtained.

This was the second armed robbery in as many days near the Evanston campus.

In a separate incident, a 16-year-old Evanston youth was the victim of an armed robbery early Saturday in the 1900 block of Orrington Avenue. It is not clear if the suspects in the two robberies are the same.

Evanston police are investigating both incident. Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call the police department at 847-866-5000.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Evanston NU robberies at gunpoint

    Where are the police?  Have visited Evanston over 12 times in the last year – never saw a police car during my stays.  Especially from the train station late in evening and campus areas.  Why not have some walking the beat?  They need VISIBILITY in the area!

    By the way – students are on campus and in town during the summer months – so an alert would have been nice also.

    1. There are police in this neighborhood

      I live 1/2 block from where this robbery happened and I see police (most of the time NU police) patrolling the area regularly. But the cops can't be everywhere all of the time. The problem here has many angles: 1) poor lighting in the neighborhood (Pratt Ct. is very dark), 2) naive students, many of whom haven't lived in an urban area before and appear oblivious to the dangers (especially late at night, 3) the fact that many of the victims are impaired while out in the wee hours, 4) the notion that NU students are not only easy marks, but are also all wealthy and have stuff worth stealing, 5) proximity to public transportation for a quick getaway (although seemingly not in this case).

      I don't want to blame the victim(s), but many of these incidents would be avoided if a few precautions were taken (cell phones away, keep an eye on the surroundings, walk in groups, use the free ride service, etc.).  Unfortunately, street crime in this area has become a bigger problem in recent years and is beginning to threaten the stability of the neighborhood.  I would like to see EPD at least indicate an awareness of the problem.

      1. Good advice

        "I don't want to blame the victim(s), but many of these incidents would be avoided if a few precautions were taken (cell phones away, keep an eye on the surroundings, walk in groups, use the free ride service, etc.)."

        Good advice. I'm sure that NU makes an effort educate students living on campus about these dangers, but when they move off campus (a goal of many young adults seeking the experience of living on their own, either alone or with others), they are pretty much on their own. Without a comprehensive effort by NU to promote crime awareness systemwide throughout the year, the problem will return each year with every new and naive crop of students moving to Evanston–and those leaving the campus dorms for apartments nearby.


      2. Victim blaming is always

        Victim blaming is always ALWAYS wrong. These women were vigilant. They made sure to walk in a group because Northwestern's SafeRide service does not operate in the summer, nor do Northwestern shuttles operate at night. They did all the right things 1) Walk in a group, 2) Attempt to walk in a well lit area (they were walking under the street lights as opposed to the dark sidewalk), 3) They immediately handed their belongings to the assailants and then went to a safe area and called the police. 

        It is extremely rude to generalize Northwestern students as naive and unaware of their surroundings, especially these students who remained calm and acted wisely in a terrible situation. Stop victim shaming and consider this: Evanston is a crime ridden town, not necessarily due to the naivete of Northwestern students but because of the wide income disparity between those who live in the neighborhoods surrounding and north of the university and those on the south and west side of the city. There is a culture of violence in this town, something we have seen time and time again with instances at ETHS. This isn't a problem that revolves around NU students, this problem starts and ends with year-round Evanston residents and a city government that doesn't care about student safety. 

  2. Easy prey

    Still relatively young NU students are trickling back into town, excited to about being here, out partying with their friends before school begins, and walking around in near darkness after midnight.

    Even when school is in session, some of these students persist in walking alone at night into the early morning, some alone and yakking on their cellphones. 

    The criminals out looking for them know all of this too well.

  3. Evanston is heading in the wrong direction

    These are more details that Evanston is heading in the wrong direction.  I too would like to know where the Police are.  I did not see any squad cars all weekend.

  4. Police available after 9pm shift?

    If you look at the "crime map" data posted on this site which is updated often – you can see that all of the "traffic" crimes and misc. crimes where they've been "caught/ticketed" happen before 9pm.  So…..where are the police in the evening?    How long would it take for them to drive through to show a presence down Orrington, Foster, train station, Hinman, etc.  periodically throughout the night.  Better yet – get out of the squad car and WALK around those areas.

    It amazes me how cops cannot find culprits after incidents happened just a few minutes earlier.

  5. Where the police are

    Sad to say I see them [1-3] parked in cul du sacs like Poplar at the golf course, along metra tracks by viaducts [where they could only catch speeders on Poplar], parking lot at Central CTA, behind the hotel at Clark and Maple, etc.  Not where I'd expect them to even be catching speeders.

    It may be too dangerous or time consuming to actually catch a robber, but I and I suspect many wonder why there are not more undercover operations like posing as students or adults in spots where potential robbers would be.  As I recall they did this at the Davis Metra several years ago.

    The sites this weekend were not typlical spots [though a couple of months a robbery occured at Orrington and Library] so a lot of time would be put into catching robbers in that area but certainly they have the expertise to know where such crimes are most likely and how to 'dress' and appear 'e.g. talking on cell-phone or playing with I-Pod to get a 'hit.'

    On the other end of the crime spectrum, NYC learned that starting at the lowest level, such as graffiti, minor vandalism, broken windows, 'street car window washers' [I don't think we have here] and just policing the low level things can make it obvious that the city is serious.  Maybe even stopping and ticketing bikers on sidewalks on prohibited sidewalks would help—yes lots of NU student but maybe some bike thiefs also.

    I don't know if better street lights would help but they are so dim now you are safer jogging in the street than sidewalks.  But of course you have to get around all those who are still living in the 1890s can keep the city from realizing this is not a suburb like Winettka—we are more an extension of Chicago and apparently it is creeping further north in Evanston..

    1. Police again

      People talk about foot patrol [I rarely see that] but police on bikes can still talk to people in the neighborhoods and chase criminals faster than on foot.  They can also cover more neighborhoods and maybe easier than even their cars in narrow alleys, deadends, etc.. I don't know with EPD has Segways(sp) but I saw NU police on one and thought a bike would be much more effective. Wrong ?

      What about 'stings' like bikes un-locked or cars that look abandoned or with windows open, etc.  We read about bike thefts enough in the downtown area that surely a few thiefs could be caught, see if they are wanted for other things and have photos/finger prints. I'm sure there are many places this would pay off.  From TV we hear stories about entrapment but that may just be stories.  We DO hear of polcie conduting stinks that are legal and produce results.  Drug/mechandise stings take a long time, bike and car stings don't take so long and may get the same people.

  6. “I don’t want to blame the

    "I don't want to blame the victim(s), but many of these incidents would be avoided if a few precautions were taken (cell phones away, keep an eye on the surroundings, walk in groups, use the free ride service, etc.)."


    UMM, these 3 students did all that is advised to do; a) they weren't alone (there were THREE OF THEM for christ sake) b) NU does NOT have any free ride services after dark over the summer months, which is bullsh*t since so many students stay on campus to do research, etc. You don't want to blame the victims, but you're blaming the victims. Nobody should have to feel unsafe in a place that they call home. Something needs to be done about this.

  7. Let’s put the blame where it is deserved

    The blame isn't with police. The blame isn't with Northwestern. The blame isn't with the victims. The blame is with the lowlife scum that resorts to violence and stealing when what they want isn't given to them.

    Evanston is a great community and Northwestern is a great university. Together they do so much for the poor and down trodden. And this is how we as a community are all repaid?

    Let's punish the ones that commit the crimes, plain and simple. This isn't a race thing or a have and have nots thing. This is a crime thing. Being nice isn't enough. Being tolerant isn't enough. Giving everyone a million chances isn't enough anymore.

    At the end of the day there is no one to blame other than the crooks. They had the choice to not commit crime and they failed. Life isn't easy, making the right choices isn't easy, and neither will it be easy to put this scum in prison where they belong. But we cannot have them walking our streets, they have proven their worth with their actions. Maybe they will find God prison or Allah or whomever else will help them get out of prison early.

    All we can hope is that they don't ever come back to Evanston.

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