Two “Scream” Mask Robberies Near Campus
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) alerted students, faculty, and staff about two strong arm robberies that occurred within 24 hours of each other near campus, through an email sent out on Saturday afternoon.
“The suspect was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and a mask from the movie Scream,” the email said.
The suspect’s disguise appears to be life imitating art as the mask was made popular by the horror movie franchise “Scream.”
“All of a sudden I hear a loud scream and a skinny guy in a “Scream” mask is running towards me”—Read the survivor’s anonymous account at the bottom.
One of the robberies occurred on Parker Street, between Turk and Anza between 7-7:30am. According to Dan Lawson, Director of DPS, more officers have been brought in to patrol around campus during the time the robberies occurred.
The Richmond District Police station said they were looking for two suspects, but they couldn’t give out further information because the search is an ongoing investigation.
An officer at the station did offer a piece of advice: “Report a crime straight away. Don’t wait a couple of days.”
“When I leave campus now, I’m running to my car and locking myself in,” said freshmen Aaron Louie.
Staying Safe this Halloween
Any safety tips for Halloween? “Travel in groups, if possible,” Lawson suggested. “I wouldn’t say to avoid the Scream mask as a costume, but maybe if you’re a male, with a slim build, wearing jeans and a dark hoodie… be alert that this isn’t the best costume for you.”
Lawson also discouraged fighting back against an attacked. “It’s always recommended to just give up the item that [the assailant] is after.” Lawson recalled a recent incident in the Western Addition neighborhood near campus, when a male student resisted a robbery and consequently sustained injuries from the attacker that required hospital care.
Lawson said that the Clery Report doesn’t require DPS to report off campus robberies but they felt that it was necessary to alert students, faculty, and staff, when they recognize a pattern or if the crime occurs in close proximity to campus.
There were 9 robberies reported on public property near USF main campus in 2012 according to Public Safety’s latest Clery Report.
Crime Prevention Workshops Reserved For Women
The USF community can look for tips on general safety on Public Safety’s website.
You can also join DPS officers as they instruct courses on Self-Defense at the Koret Center. However, the website for USF Self Defense classes makes it clear they are for “Women ONLY.”
The most important tips are to always be aware and alert and to keep valuables like smart phones and laptops concealed.
A Halloween Trend for Criminals
Is the “Scream” mask a popular disguise for robbers around Halloween? Numerous cases reported around the country this year point to a pattern.
In Seattle, a man in a “Scream” mask, who implied he had a weapon, attempted to rob a Wells Fargo just a few days ago.
On Oct 23, an armed man wearing the same mask robbed a Subway restaurant in Atlanta.
A man wearing the “Scream” mask was reported robbing a barbershop in Portland with a handgun last week.
“Most of us can navigate through an urban area and never be a victim of crime,” said Lawson, “but sometimes it’s inevitable and you can’t avoid it.”
SCREAM Victim Speaks
Editor’s Note: One of the victims of the robberies agreed to speak to the Foghorn about her experience, under the condition that her identity is kept anonymous.
Foghorn: What Happened?
Victim: I was walking down Parker Street around 7 o’clock in the morning and it was incredibly foggy. I could barely see 5 feet in front of me. I watched a girl walking in front of me disappear into the fog and all of a sudden I hear a loud scream and a skinny guy in a “Scream” mask is running towards me with a stolen backpack and the screaming girl is chasing him. I think he was hiding in that little Lone Mountain alleyway before he robbed her.
F: When did the attacker divert his attention to you?
V: He tried to grab my phone, but then realized that the girl, whose backpack he stole, was still chasing him, so he pushed me aside and ran off.
F: What did you do?
V: I ran to campus as fast as I could. I called Public Safety and they told me to call the police. I filed a report with the police, and then Public Safety called me back to file a report with them. Then, I went home and tried to take a nap but I couldn’t fall asleep.
F: Have you made any changes to your daily routine?
V: I’ve been getting friends to drive me home. If that’s not possible I get friends to take the bus with me and walk me home. I might invest in a taser. I think [the assailant] used the mask purposefully to scare people, and it worked.