Robbery on the Boston Common serves as safety reminder for students

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Photo: Alec Klusza

Boston Common in snow.

By Zhuo Huang

A robbery involving two Emerson students on the Boston Common was reported to the Boston Police Department in the evening of Jan. 22.

The robbery—first reported to the Emerson College Police Department before 8 p.m.— was referred to the Boston Police Department for further investigation. 

The incident report said six suspects followed the two victims for a while before attacking them, implying they had pistols.  One victim’s iPhone, earpods, Emerson ID card, and other keys were taken, according to the report.

This is reported to be the second robbery recorded in ECPD’s crime log over the past four months, following the Nov. 30 robbery in the Boston Public Garden

In an email to all Emerson students two weeks ago, Emerson College Police Department Chief Robert Smith recognized an uptick in robberies within the city. 

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“As most people are aware, downtown businesses have not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, resulting in less active pedestrian traffic-utilizing public spaces such as the Common and the Public Garden, than there normally would be,” Smith wrote in the email. “With fewer people around, we want our community to be more alert.”

Regarding the most recent robbery, Sergeant Detective John Boyle, a spokesman for BPD, told The Beacon in a phone interview, “in speaking to the Captain, we have not seen a spike in any incidents on the Common. [The robbery] appears to be an isolated incident right now.” 

Sophia Inez, a sophomore theatre and performance major, said she was not too surprised to hear about the robbery. 

“Considering that it’s a city, it happens,” Inez said. “ I think there always is a sense people have like, ‘Oh, not me,’ even though we’re aware that it happens all the time. I don’t think we ever expected to be us.”

The Twitter account @StacoS, which does real-time updates on 911 calls around the Boston area, posted the news of this robbery around 8 p.m. on Jan. 22.

Stanley Staco has been running the account for over 10 years. With help from volunteers, he updates incidents voluntarily to keep people safe. In an interview with The Beacon, Staco said crimes that happen on the Common are very random and sporadic. 

“Since I’ve been doing this, I’m always very careful and aware of my surroundings and what goes on,” Staco said. “After dark, I would not go [to the Common] because it is located close to the theatre district. After certain hours, you got buses that are emptying, you got trucks running around. So, there’s always an element of something that could happen.” 

Inez stated that she too takes precautions when going to the Commons after dark, noting that she always goes with others. 

“Just like in any city at night, I wouldn’t want to walk around alone,” she said.

Duo Zhou, a sophomore visual and media arts major, echoed Inez’s statement, saying that robberies are expected when living in a city.

Zhou recalled sitting on a bench in the Common with her friend around 8 p.m. when a man came up to her telling them he was going to chop her head off. She pretended she could not understand English and ran away.

“I don’t feel traumatized, but I do think that everyone should have the emergency number in their phones,” Zhou said.