Man robs campus parking attendant at gunpoint

    Police believe a student or campus affiliate may be responsible for robbing two parking attendants at gunpoint and stealing approximately $1,000 in parking proceeds.

    In the most recent theft, which occurred at approximately 7:40 p.m. on Jan. 5, a masked man armed with a revolver approached the North Campus information booth and demanded that the parking attendant on duty hand over approximately $540 in cash, according to campus police Detective Yolanda Smith. The man fled down Ridge Walk on foot directly after the holdup, possibly to a vehicle parked in the vicinity of Lot 357.

    Smith said a dark scarf and beanie concealed the suspect’s face, making the identification of even his race impossible. However, the attendant’s description suggested that the man is in his 20s and has a thin build.

    “The victim said she saw his hands and said that they looked young,” Smith said.

    The general description of the suspect and method of crime — including concealing clothes and use of a revolver — match a December theft from a parking attendant working in Thornton Hospital, according to Smith. The Thornton robbery, which took place on Dec. 22, also occurred on a Wednesday night, and police believe the same man may be responsible for both crimes.

    “We’ve pretty much canvassed the city as far as asking for any similar crimes and no one is having problems like this,” Smith said. “So we’re kind of thinking it might be a student or an affiliate.”

    In the December robbery, the parking attendant told investigators the man was approximately 5 feet 10 inches in height, though the witness in the most recent crime described the man as 5 feet 5 inches tall. However, Smith said the overall description and method of crimes of the suspects match.

    “If you have a gun pointed at you, people’s description of height could be different,” she said.

    The UCSD Police Department has taken precautionary steps in the event the man attempts another robbery, according to Corporal Kristeen McCollough, though she could not comment on plans in case the suspect is affiliated with the campus.

    “The department will actively do things to prevent this from happening again,” McCollough said.

    At approximately 5 p.m. on Jan. 7, an empty police cruiser was parked in the drive-thru of the North Campus information booth. The parking attendant inside declined to comment, citing concerns that the suspect was a campus student and would read about her remarks in the paper.

    Transportation and Parking Services Director Gregory M. Snee was not immediately available for comment.

    In addition to the robberies, the police department has recorded a spike in bike theft over the three-week winter break, though final numbers are not yet available, according to McCollough.

    Earlier in December, police arrested a man on Library Walk suspected of posting child pornography on library computers at several San Diego college campuses. He was charged with a total of 29 felony counts of distributing child pornography.

    The 31-year-old was also suspected of using a camera phone to take pictures beneath stall doors in a Price Center women’s restroom on Dec. 1, according to McCollough, though he was not charged with any crimes related to the incident.

    However, McCollough said the recent incidents were isolated and did not indicate a larger trend of growing campus crime.

    In 2003, UCSD recorded a total of three robberies for the year, and just one the year before, according to annual crime statistics. Between 1999 and 2000, no robberies were reported to campus police.

    Though the campus matches UC Irvine with the lowest officer-to-population ratio in the UC system, McCollough said the robberies will likely not lead to changes in staffing levels. As of 2003, the department employed 0.6 officers for every 1,000 people on campus, compared to 1.3 officers at the university’s San Francisco campus, which has the highest ratio.

    “A robbery is not something that we can plan for,” McCollough said. “Realistically, without having a really big problem with it, it’s hard for us to direct our resources solely to that because there is so much going on at the campus.”

    At the time of the crimes, however, the department was in the process of accepting applications for new officer positions, according to McCollough, a process she says will continue.

    “We are recruiting right now, and we’re doing interviews to hire more officers,” she said.

    Police have asked any witnesses who may have seen the suspect escape on Jan. 5 or noted a suspicious vehicle in the North Campus parking lots at the time to call the campus police department at (858) 534-HELP.

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